BOSTON, Aug. 13, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- John Hancock Bank and Thrift Opportunity Fund (NYSE: BTO) (the "Fund"), a closed-end fund managed by John Hancock Advisers, LLC (the "Adviser"), and subadvised by John Hancock Asset Management a division of Manulife Asset Management (U.S.), LLC, announced today that its Board of Trustees voted to amend its current managed distribution plan (the "Plan"), increasing the annual distribution rate by 30%, from 5.00% of the Fund's net asset value ("NAV") to 6.50% of the Fund's NAV. Under the amended Plan, the Fund will distribute each quarter a fixed dollar amount per share rather than a fixed percentage of NAV. The Fund will make quarterly distributions of an amount equal to $0.2961 per share, based upon an annual distribution rate of 6.50% of the Fund's NAV of $18.22 on July 31, 2012 (representing a quarterly distribution rate of 1.625% of the Fund's July 31, 2012 NAV). This amount will be paid quarterly until further notice. Pursuant to its amended Plan, the Fund declared its quarterly distribution today as follows: Declaration Date: August 13, 2012Ex-Dividend Date: September 12, 2012Record Date: September 14, 2012Payment Date: September 28, 2012Distribution Amount Per Share: $0.2961 So far this year, data suggesting a slight recovery in the U.S. economy coupled with improving company fundamentals, has led to positive returns in equity markets. The Portfolio Management team is encouraged by these trends and sees good opportunities across the financial sector. A number of factors contribute to this optimistic outlook, among them are a pick-up in loan growth, an upturn in merger activity, increased consumer spending and better access to financing. If these trends persist and the equity markets continue to improve, then valuations in financial shares may continue to move towards historic levels, which may result in increased gains to help support the Plan over the long-term.
In trading on Monday, shares of John Hancock Financial Opportunities Fund crossed below their 200 day moving average of $22.82, changing hands as low as $22.47 per share. John Hancock Financial Opportunities Fund shares are currently trading down about 4.3% on the day.