Murray International Trust reported on a year of depressed returns on Monday, with net asset value total return of -7.8% in 2015, down from 3% a year earlier. Share price total return was -15.2% in the calendar year, compared with 1.7%, and benchmark total return was 2.6%, down from 7.5%.
The FTSE 250 investment trust revealed a revenue return per share of 45.7p, up from 40.8p in 2014, and recommended a final dividend of 15p, taking the total dividends per share to 46.5p - a lift from 45p in the prior year.
Chairman Kevin Carter expressed disappointment that the company's net asset value not only underperformed its benchmark in 2015, but also declined in absolute terms.
"In recent annual statements, both I and the manager have emphasised a firm focus on capital preservation in the construction of the portfolio, and it is therefore a particular frustration that this has not been achieved," he said.
Carter explained that the benchmark total return was positively affected primarily by the performance of US equities and - to a lesser extent - Japanese equities, with the company underweight in both of those relatively lower yielding markets.
"Beyond that, numerous global equity markets declined in sterling terms with particularly severe corrections in companies exposed to the energy, commodities, utilities and industrial sectors," he added.
"Many of our portfolio holdings are in countries and stock markets which were especially affected by these trends."
Looking ahead, Carter and the board said 2016 had begun with considerable market volatility, as investors attempted to decipher a complex economic and interest rate environment.
"Against this backdrop, the company's yield-focused, value conscious, diversified portfolio style has struggled to keep up, The question is how likely and how long this will continue," Carter explained.
He said there were now sufficiently widening cracks in the global financial system to suggest great caution was warranted. At the time of the report, Murray's year-to-date net asset value had risen 8.1%, while the company's benchmark index declined 0.9%.
Carter said the board had conducted a strategic review with the manager to consider its response to the conditions, and continued to believe in the principles of broad portfolio diversification, emphasis on high quality businesses and focusing on companies with strong balance sheets.
"The board and the manager remain committed to this approach as the best portfolio strategy to pursue in order to achieve the company's investment objective," Carter concluded.