To our shareholders and investors
First, despite the emergence of a historic pandemic and geopolitical risks, I would like to highlight that SPARX achieved stable investment performance while controlling our costs last year*. As a result, our base earnings, an indicator of our profitability that represents a stable and sustainable foundation for our business, has reached a historical high. The following is a summary of last year's performance and our goals for the future.
Note: The terms "Last year," and "Two years ago" refer to the Fiscal year ended 3/2022 and Fiscal year ended 3/2021, respectively.
Last year, operating revenue decreased 1.8% to JPY 14.0 billion, mainly due to a decrease in performance fees. However, average assets under management (AUM) was JPY 228.1 billion higher compared to the prior year and management fees grew by 15% to JPY 12.6 billion. From the cost perspective, ordinary expenses totaled JPY 4.8 billion due to a decrease in office-related expenses. As a result, base earnings equaled JPY 6.2 billion, surpassing our previous record high set in FY3/2007. We believe that our profitability is steadily growing. In addition, operating profit rose by 1.8% to JPY 6.5 billion and net profit attributable to owners of the parent increased 17.4% to JPY 4.1 billion, partly due to the recognition of extraordinary income.
Regarding last year's dividend, our shareholders approved a dividend equal to JPY 12 per share, or an increase of one (1) yen versus two years ago. For the second consecutive year, this is a new record high excluding the memorial dividend paid in 2005. We will continue to do our utmost to maintain our earnings growth and deliver reliable returns to our shareholders.
SPARX AUM for last year increased by 1.3% year over year to JPY 1.6 trillion. We aim to double our AUM to JPY 3.0 trillion by March 31, 2026. We are determined to achieve this goal, while maintaining the quality of our investment performance.
Taking a closer look at our current AUM of JPY 1.6 trillion, our Japanese equities strategy represents JPY 1.0 trillion of the total. This achievement represents the growth of our investment capabilities and delivery of steady performance over the past 32 years since SPARX started. Our Long-Short strategy, which earns performance fees, achieved its AUM goal of JPY 100 billion last year. Maintaining and increasing the AUM of investment strategies that can earn performance fees is one of our strengths and represents our uniqueness. Moreover, while environmental, social and governance issues (ESG) have always been a part of the SPARX investment process, we have more closely studied this topic as global investors are increasingly approaching us due to their interest in ESG investment opportunities in Japan. We have established a foothold to lead ESG investment and communicate to the world.
We have also launched our OneAsia investment strategy focused on Asian equities, investing as Asians for the benefit of Asia. Over the next three to five years, one of our goals is for this strategy to be the same size or even bigger than our Japanese equities strategy.
For our renewable energy strategy, we believe that there are still many opportunities so we will continue to work hard to create additional value by leveraging our group of more than 30 renewable energy power plants across Japan, which SPARX has financed and is currently operating. With renewable energy and climate change emerging as the world's significant themes, we need to take the initiative as an investment company to benefit from the tailwinds to build a carbon neutral world.
As for our private equity strategy, the Mirai Creation Fund II is steadily making investments. We also established the Mirai Creation Fund III last year, and it already has JPY 51.5 billion in AUM. We have become one of the most prominent venture capital firms in Japan in terms of both size and investment performance.
Finally, we have started to invest in new growth areas to enhance our existing investment strategies. I believe that these growth areas for the next era are energy, healthcare, and fintech, where the use of AI is needed. Going forward, we will do our best to communicate a clearer view of the new forms of businesses that will power SPARX's future growth.
With our desire to become the most trusted and respected investment company in the world--a vision since our founding--we will make every effort to maintain our leading position as a company that earns the support from its shareholders.
We humbly request your continuous guidance and encouragement. Thank you.
SPARX Group Co. Ltd.