article , video 12-18-2014

Will Current M&A Activity Benefit Small-Caps?

With M&A total deal volumes running at their highest pace since 2007, what has spurred increased activity? Portfolio Manager Lauren Romeo and Director of Consultant Relations & Client Service Jeff Smith discuss the correlation between improving economic conditions and increased corporate spending.

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Jeff Smith: Lauren, many thought 2014 would be the year for M&A. Has it been?

Lauren Romeo: It actually has in the sense that M&A total deal volumes are actually running at their highest pace since 2007. But what's been interesting is that more of the activity has been in the large-cap and mega-cap part of the spectrum and less so in the smaller-cap area.

So far, through the first half of the year, 35% of the M&A deals in the U.S. were in the mega-cap arena, whereas historically small-cap deals have dominated, representing 70% or higher of the deals that are done in any given year.

Jeff: So are the conditions in place for continued M&A?

Lauren: Yes. First, cash levels on corporate balance sheets remain at all-time highs, interest rates are very low, access to financing—debt financing—has improved for companies, and valuations continue to remain attractive.

The big thing that I think has spurred activity this year, and is something that we hear from companies themselves, is that confidence in the economy and the political situation in the U.S. has finally improved, and companies are now willing to take those steps. Instead of returning cash to shareholders like they've done in the past couple of years, they're now turning towards redeploying that cash into productive growth investments for their businesses.

Jeff: Will this benefit some of the companies we own in our portfolios?

Lauren: Yes. We own some M&A advisory companies such as Lazard, which is one of the top independent advisory companies.

But I think the bigger impact we're also seeing is that our small-cap companies are making acquisitions at a pretty rapid pace themselves, and the reaction that companies have gotten, they've seen their stock prices rise anywhere from 5-10% on the announcement of the deal.

I think it's a reflection that investors are happy that the companies are finally putting the excess cash that they've had on their balance sheet that was not earning very much money—putting it to use so that it will earn a greater return and will help the business grow going forward, as well as improve the company's competitive situation.

Important Disclosure Information

Lauren Romeo is a Portfolio Manager of Royce & Associates, LLC, investment adviser to The Royce Funds. She is the portfolio manager for Royce Select Fund I (RS1) and Royce 100 Fund (ROH). She also serves as assistant portfolio manager for Royce Pennsylvania Mutual Fund (PMF), Royce Premier Fund (RPR), Royce Value Fund (RVV), and Royce Value Trust (RVT). The thoughts and opinions expressed in the video are solely those of the person speaking and may differ from those of other Royce investment professionals, or the firm as a whole. There can be no assurance with regard to future market movements.

This material is not authorized for distribution unless preceded or accompanied by a current prospectus. Please read the prospectus carefully before investing or sending money. Investments in securities of small-cap companies may involve considerably more risk than investments in securities of larger-cap companies. (Please see "Primary Risks for Fund Investors" in the prospectus.)

Percentage of Fund Holdings as of 9/30/14 (%)

  RS1 ROH PMF RPR RVV RVT
Lazard Cl. A 1.76 0.91 0.29 0.00 0.00 0.45

There can be no assurance that any of the securities mentioned in this piece will be included in these portfolios in the future. References to specific securities in this piece are not intended as recommendations and should not be relied upon as the basis for anyone to buy, sell, or hold any security.

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