THE long-established Murray Income Trust narrowly trailed its benchmark index in the six months to December 31, figures published yesterday show.

The Aberdeen Standard Investments-managed trust, which now has more than £1 billion of assets following its merger with Perpetual Income and Growth Trust in November, ran into “some performance headwinds”, as markets reacted to uncertainty around coronavirus, Brexit and the US election. It follows what chairman Neil Rogan said had been an “exceptional run of outperformance for nine quarters in a row” by the trust, which can trace its roots back to 1923. The trust’s net asset value total return was 9.2 per cent, compared with one of 9.3% on the FTSE All-Share Index, according to its half-year report.

Manager Charles Luke and deputy Iain Pyle note in their report that the trust increased its exposure to existing holdings such as Marshalls, Close Brothers, Croda, Ashmore and Diageo, “which we believe have high-quality characteristics with attractive growth prospects”. Diageo is the biggest holding in the trust’s portfolio at 4.4% of its total investments, with its value standing at £48.6 million on December 31.

Four new holdings were added in the six-month period: Safestore, which owns and operates self-storage facilities in the UK and France; Direct Line; specialist investment firm and asset manager Intermediate Capital Group; and Softcat, the second-largest technology reseller in the UK.

Contemplating the outlook, the managers note the recovery of the UK and other regions “continues to be relatively uncertain”, but say the vaccine rollout means the “route out of the pandemic is now clearer”.

“In addition, the Brexit deal has now been agreed and although there will be assorted ramifications for some time, in many cases businesses’ ability to plan for the future has improved,” the managers add. “In the United States, the election of Joe Biden removes a further source of uncertainty.”

Mr Rogan reported that, between December 31 and February 15, the trust’s NAV and share price total return were 3.2% and 2.6%, while the discount to NAV widened to 3.6% from 3%. The FTSE All-Share Index total return was 4.7% for that period.