02/16/2012 02:34 EST | Updated 04/17/2012 05:12 EDT

Wealth management company CI Financial hikes dividend, reports net income of $87.8M in Q4

TORONTO - Wealth management company CI Financial Corp. (TSX:CIX) is raising its dividend after the company eked out a marginal increase in profits in the fourth quarter but saw its assets grow sharply.

The big Bay Street financial company said Thursday it will hike its dividend payment to shareholders by about seven per cent in March to eight cents a share.

That would pay stockholders of the company about 96 cents a year. With 284 million shares outstanding, that would cost the company about $273 million annually.

In its financial report, CI said its net profits for the latest quarter increased slightly to $87.8 million or 31 cents per share, up from $87.4 million or 30 cents per share in the same quarter in 2010.

Assets under management jumped nearly 10 per cent to $72.1 billion as of Dec. 31 from $65.7 billion a year earlier.

"We had exceptional results for the year and fourth quarter, in what was a challenging environment," said chief executive Stephen MacPhail.

"Furthermore, the growth in assets for the year-to-date, combined with our expectation for continued strong free cash flow and earnings, set the stage for our decision to increase CI's dividend by seven per cent, effective in March."

In the fourth quarter, revenues slipped to $356.7 million from $368.6 million in the same period in 2010.

Net income for fiscal 2011 was $376.9 million versus $328.6 in 2010, an increase of 15 per cent.

CI is one of Canada’s largest independent investment fund companies. It manages, markets, distributes and administers mutual funds, segregated funds, structured products and other fee-earning investment products for Canadian investors.