Sealaska to award larger dividends

Urban and large shareholders to receive $5 per share; villagers will get $2.33 per share

Posted: Thursday, November 03, 2005

Sealaska Corp. will pay shareholders this fall $7 million in dividends, the highest amount the Juneau-based regional Native corporation has paid in recent years, according to company officials.

The average Sealaska shareholder owning 100 shares will receive a check worth $500, or $5 per share, due to large contributions from a pool of Native corporations and Sealaska's investment portfolio outperforming the market, company spokesman Todd Antioquia said.

"It's a progress report," said shareholder Michael Beasley, who said he will put the money into building materials for his house. "I find this to be very, very positive."

Dividends are given in the spring and fall. Payments to Sealaska's 17,300 shareholders of Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian descent go directly into accounts or be mailed on Dec. 6.

Some $5 million in dividends was distributed this spring at $3.08 per share. Dividends paid in 2004 and 2003 ranged between $2.37 and $1.

Those considered urban and large shareholders will get the total $5 per share, as their dividends include $2.67 in revenue sharing from all 12 Alaska Native corporations. A clause in the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act known as Section (j) sets up the revenue sharing and direct payments.

Antioquia said that pot is larger this year because other corporations are raking in profits from resource development.

Village shareholders, a group that does not receive a combined check of Sealaska and Section (j) payments, will receive the company's base payment of $2.33 per share.

The dividend also includes $0.73 per share from Sealaska's operations. This is the first time in four years that the company paid dividends on revenues generated by its subsidiaries because of good performance, Antioquia said. The investment fund was worth $78 million at the end of 2004 and had a 15 percent return.

Exactly $1.60 per share comes from the company's permanent fund, which is outperforming other funds in the market, Antioquia said.

"The Alaska Native Wireless bond has contributed and will continue to do so until it matures in 2007," he said about a particular investment in the fund for one of Sealaska's subsidiaries.

The company's timber corporation in Ketchikan continues to be its strongest subsidiary, especially now that it is breaking into foreign markets such as China and Pakistan, Antioquia said.

Sealaska also holds a variety of light manufacturing plants across the country and in Mexico and has investments in a California casino, a telecommunications venture and a plasma collection company, among others.

Last year's annual report showed Sealaska's profits dipping from 2003 and previous years. The company made about $152 million in revenue and $16 million in net earnings in 2004, compared to $161 million in revenue and $33 million in profits in 2003.

Sealaska suffered a loss of $122.4 million in 2000 and a drop of $345,000 the following year due to bad investments, competition, poor timber prices and a bear stock market.

The spokesman would not say how much the company has earned this year, except, "We're optimistic that we will have positive news after our audit is complete."

The company will release its annual report in the spring.

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