Over the last year or so, most of them have neither appreciated vastly nor paid dividends. However, many of them have credited me with some Subscription Shares; these are tokens given me for free, which give me the right to buy the underlying shares in the future, either on particular days (in one case 31/1, 30/4, 31/7 or 31/10), or in another case at any time in the month of May in any year from 2010 to 2014, or in a third case at any desired time up to a cut-off date, at a price fixed now.
The Subscription Shares are themselves traded, and are presumably a very conventional sort of derivative; JAIS shares, each giving the right to buy for 137p at any desired time between 1 April 2009 and 31 March 2010 JAI shares currently worth 159p, are currently worth a little more than 159p-137p, namely 26.5p. People are more optimistic about China; the right to buy a JMC share (currently worth 120p) for 143p in May 2010 or for 168p in May 2011, 2012 or 2013 is worth 22p.
The question is, what benefit does the investment trust get from handing out free derivatives of this kind? I suppose it's like a rights issue (IE, the investment trust gets money) but with the dilution spread out over time as people vacillate over exactly when to trigger their right to buy ten pound notes for £8.61.