Renewal of Investment Advisory Contract
During their meeting of September 26, 2011, Amana's trustees discussed the Trust's various operating agreements. They focused on renewing the Investment Advisory and Administration Agreements of the three Funds of the Trust with Saturna Capital Corporation ("Saturna"), and discussed the nature, extent, and quality of the services provided by Saturna. The Trustees took into consideration that the Funds offer unique services for Islamic investors. The Trustees discussed Saturna's experience, ability and commitment to quality service through performing internally such functions as shareowner servicing, administration, retirement plan and trust services, accounting, marketing, and distribution — in addition to investment management.
The Trustees took into consideration Saturna's continued avoidance of significant operational problems, plus its substantial investments in premises, personnel, training and equipment to meet investor needs. They recognized Saturna's efforts to recruit and retain increasingly qualified, experienced and specialized staff and improve the capital base on which Saturna operates, which the Trustees believe is important to the long-term success of the Funds.
The Trustees found that the long-term investment performance of the Growth and Income Funds, both in absolute numbers and relative to peers, continued to be very good in a volatile year, reflecting Saturna's cautious investment style. The Trustees found that Saturna managed the Funds to continue to be an acceptable investment for Muslims as well as being highly attractive to all kinds of equity investors. They understood the Islamic restrictions increased Saturna's research expenses and obligations, and imposed constraints on Saturna's selection of portfolio investments.
The Trustees noted, in particular, that the superior performance of the Amana Funds has been recognized by independent rating organizations. As of September 9, 2011, Lipper's Leader Scorecard ranked Amana Growth in the first quintile of its U.S. Multi-Cap Growth category on total return and preservation. Lipper's Scorecard ranked Amana Income in the first quintile of its U.S. Equity Income category on total return, consistent return, preservation and tax efficiency. And as of August 31, 2011, Morningstar continued to give both Funds its top 5-Star rating overall. For the 10-year period ending June 30, both the Income and Growth funds rank in the top 1% of their respective Morningstar U.S. categories. Globally, Failaka Advisors again recognized the Amana Funds at their annual Islamic Fund Awards ceremony held in April 2011. Amana Income and Amana Growth won Failaka's 2010 Best Global Equity Fund awards, for the 5-year and 1-year periods ended 2010, respectively. The new Developing World Fund has not operated long enough to have longer-term performance information to review. The Trustees found such information helpful in establishing expectations regarding the performance of the adviser and whether to continue the advisory contract.
The Trustees reviewed the fees and expenses of the Funds. They found each Fund's expense ratio compared favorably to retail funds in its peer group and to be fair given the size of each Fund, the services provided and expenses incurred by the adviser. Expenses related to distribution, paid to unaffiliated intermediaries, was the largest category. The Trustees recognized that the Funds' positive performance record had likely contributed to their growth in asset size, which resulted in lower expense ratios due to rising fixed costs being spread over a larger asset base.
The Trustees reviewed Saturna's financial information and discussed the issue of profitability related to management and administration of the Funds, as well as the reasonability of profitability with respect to each of the Funds as part of their evaluation of whether the fees under the advisory contract bear a reasonable relationship to the mix of services provided by Saturna, including the nature, extent and quality of such services. The Trustees noted Saturna's sharing of its revenues to pay marketing and distribution (platform) costs of the Funds.
The Trustees considered the extent to which advisory fees paid to the adviser reflect economies of scale. The Trustees noted that as the Funds have grown, the adviser has voluntarily included additional breakpoints within the Growth and the Income Funds' advisory fee structures. Fee breakpoints not only result in lowering operating expenses of the Funds and lower expense ratios but it also demonstrate that economies of scale are being shared with shareowners.
The Trustees considered the fees charged by Saturna to other kinds of accounts and the different services provided to those accounts, as well as the ways in which Saturna's service and work done for other accounts it manages benefit the Funds.
The Trustees considered potential benefits to Saturna from acting as investment adviser and noted that there were no soft dollar arrangements with respect to trading in the Funds' portfolios. In fact, Saturna voluntarily waives brokerage commissions for Fund portfolio trades executed through its affiliated broker at a considerable cost to Saturna, which results in savings to Fund shareowners.
The Trustees concluded that the fees paid by the Funds to Saturna were reasonable in light of the services provided, comparative performance, expense and advisory fee information, costs of services provided and profits to be realized and benefits derived or to be derived by Saturna from its relationship with the Funds. Following this discussion, the Trustees unanimously agreed to renew the Amana Growth Fund, Amana Income Fund, and Amana Developing World Funds' investment Advisory and Administration Agreements.