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Despite losses, dividend checks will be nearly as big as last year's

Posted: Tuesday, September 18, 2001

JUNEAU (AP) -- Despite losing money for the first time in its 25-year history, dividend checks from the Alaska Permanent Fund are expected to fall only a little short of last year's record payout, a spokesman for the fund corporation said Monday.

The Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. will transfer $1.08 billion, down $60 million from 2000, to the state Department of Revenue to be distributed to eligible Alaskans, said Jim Kelly, a spokesman for the corporation.

While the checks are expected to be less than last year's record $1,963.86, Kelly said ''this will be the second highest dividend ever.''

Payments are made based on a five-year average of net profits. The dividend is expected to fall somewhere between $1,820 and $1,925, based on various estimates.

Despite strong returns on its real estate and bond investments, the fund overall showed a 3.3 percent loss for the fiscal year. That was due to major declines in the fund's stock portfolio, which now stands at about 46 percent of the assets. It was the first such loss since the Alaska Permanent Fund was created in 1976, Kelly said.

Still, said the fund's executive director, Bob Storer, financial managers did better than their peers in handling Alaska's saving account.

''We had a very good return compared to most large funds,'' Storer said.

The Alaska Permanent Fund was valued at $24.8 billion at the end of the fiscal year June 30, down from $26.5 billion at the same time a year earlier. That decline includes payment of nearly $1.1 billion for the 2000 dividend. The fund also received $339 million in new oil revenues during the fiscal year.

With stock prices falling since the end of the fiscal year, the fund's value was down to $24.5 billion by Aug. 31.

The Department of Revenue is expected to announce this year's Permanent Fund dividend later this week with little fanfare, in deference to the terrorist attacks last Tuesday, said Larry Persily, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Revenue.

A televised announcement initially scheduled for Wednesday at the University of Alaska Southeast was canceled. Instead a press release will be sent out that day, Persily said.

''It seemed inappropriate to stand in front of the cameras and say we should all be happy because we have free money,'' Persily said. ''We just felt low-key would be better.''

The state Department of Revenue has received 617,838 Dividend applications this year, Persily said. Direct deposit recipients will receive their checks Oct. 10 and others will be mailed Oct. 17, Persily said.



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