article 12-31-2013

Royce Micro-Cap Trust Manager Commentary

Royce Micro-Cap Trust (RMT) gained 44.5% on an NAV (net asset value) basis and 49.4% on a market price basis in 2013 compared to its unleveraged benchmarks, the Russell 2000 Index and Russell Microcap Index, which had respective gains of 38.8% and 45.6%, for the same period. During the highly bullish first quarter, RMT gained 11.4% on an NAV basis, falling behind both the Russell 2000 and the Russell Microcap, which rose 12.4% and 12.6%, respectively. On a market price basis, the Fund outpaced both indexes, gaining 14.6% during the first quarter. The second quarter was more volatile. Market sentiment soured in late June after the Fed announced that it would likely begin winding down its quantitative easing policies later in the year. Adding to the uncertainty was the less-than-stellar news out of China, Brazil, Turkey, and Europe, which led to a drop in stock prices for several sessions before the markets stabilized here in the U.S. just before the end of June. RMT trailed both the Russell 2000 and Russell Microcap Indexes in the second quarter, gaining 1.8% on an NAV basis and 2.4% on a market price basis compared to respective gains of 3.1% and 5.1%.

The Fund enjoyed a particularly strong third quarter, outpacing each of its benchmarks. RMT advanced 13.9% on an NAV basis (and gained 9.6% based on market price) while the small-cap index was up 10.2% and the micro-cap index rose 11.6% in the third quarter. The fourth quarter saw mostly lower though still positive returns, though micro-caps were something of an exception to this rule. The Fund increased 11.9% on an NAV basis and an impressive 16.2% on a market price basis versus respective gains of 8.7% and 10.3% for the Russell 2000 and Russell Microcap Indexes.

On a long-term NAV basis, we were pleased that the Fund outperformed the Russell 2000 for the three-, five-, 10-, 15-, 20-year, and since inception (12/14/93) periods ended December 31, 2013. The Fund also outpaced the Russell Microcap for the one-, five-, and 10-year periods on an NAV basis. On a market price basis, RMT outperformed the Russell 2000 for the one-, three-, five-, 20-year, and since inception (12/14/93) periods ended December 31, 2013; the Fund also outpaced the Russell Microcap for the one-, three-, five-, and 10-year periods. (Data for the Russell Microcap only goes back to 2000.) RMT’s average annual NAV total return for the since inception period was 11.9%. We are proud of the Fund’s long-term record and are pleased that RMT celebrated 20 years of history in December 2013.

Nine of the Fund’s 10 equity sectors made net contributions to performance in 2013. Industrials led comfortably, though strong net gains also came from Information Technology and Financials. At the position level, the largest contributions came from companies in the Financials and Industrials sectors. San Diego-based BofI Holding has been a holding in the portfolio since late August of 2006. BofI saw its web-based banking services in both the consumer and commercial markets in high demand. We liked its long-term prospects, but its soaring stock price convinced us to greatly reduce our position. Altisource Asset Management provides asset management and corporate governance services to investment vehicles that own real estate related assets. We began to sell our stake in September when its share price rose well beyond our price target. A rising stock price also led us to take gains in Virtus Investment Partners, a financial advisory and consulting firm, and Kennedy-Wilson Holdings, a verticallyintegrated real estate investment and services company. The latter benefited from investing aggressively in West Coast commercial real estate when those markets were in distress, and the firm’s performance in 2013 reflected their much healthier condition.

Five out of the Fund’s top 10 detractors, and 10 of its top 20, came from the metals & mining industry. Respective commodity price declines of 28% and 36% for gold and silver in 2013 were the primary cause of the industry’s woes. After adding to our stake in the first half, we chose to sell our shares in Vista Gold in the fall after further alarming share price declines. We also parted ways with Golden Star Resources. Confident that it could benefit from an eventual turnaround, we added shares in closed-end fund ASA Gold and Precious Metals, which invests primarily in companies involved in gold mining. After initiating a position in March, we substantially built our position in Sprott, a Canadian investment management company that saw its share price slide as assets and fees declined, in large part the result of its significant exposure to the precious metals mining and energy industries. Coming from the Health Care sector, Celsion Corporation develops heat-based cancer treatments, currently focused on breast and liver cancer. After gains in the stock led us to reduce our stake between July 2012 and January 2013, we held a small position throughout the year, though it was not small enough to keep the stock from hurting performance. Its share price cratered late in January on news that its liver cancer treatment, ThermoDox, failed to meet efficacy expectations in the final stage of clinical testing. We still like its core business and were reasonably hopeful that it could recover.

An investor in Royce Micro-Cap Trust should consider the Fund's investment goals, risks, fees, charges, and expenses carefully before investing.

Top Contributors to 2013 Performance

BofI Holding 0.99%
Altisource Asset Management 0.87
Virtus Investment Partners 0.82
Kennedy-Wilson Holdings 0.79
AAON 0.76
1 Includes dividends

Top Detractors from 2013 Performance1

Vista Gold -0.48%
Celsion Corporation -0.41
ASA Gold and Precious Metals -0.25
Golden Star Resources -0.21
Sprotff -0.14
1 Net of dividends

Average Annual Total Returns as of Quarter-End 12/31/13 (%)

  QTR YTD 1YR 3YR 5YR 10YR 15YR 20YR Since
RMT 16.18 49.42 49.42 17.39 24.50 9.02 11.69 11.13 11.10 12/14/1993
XOTCX 11.35 44.52 44.52 16.11 24.12 9.64 11.60 11.93 11.92 12/14/1993
Russell 2000 8.72 38.82 38.82 15.67 20.08 9.07 8.42 9.27 9.44 N/A

Annual Operating Expenses: 1.56%

Current month-end performance may be obtained from our Prices and Performance page.

Important Disclosure Information

All performance information reflects past performance, is presented on a total return basis, and reflects the reinvestment of distributions. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Current performance may be higher or lower than performance quoted. Returns as of the most recent month-end may be obtained here. Certain immaterial adjustments were made to the net assets of Royce Micro-Cap Trust at 12/31/12 for financial reporting purposes, and as a result the net asset value originally calculated on that date and the total return based on that net asset value differs from the adjusted net asset value and total return reported in the Financial Highlights. The market price of the Fund’s shares will fluctuate, so that shares may be worth more or less than their original cost when sold. The Fund normally invests in micro-cap companies, which may involve considerably more risk than investing in a more diversified portfolio of larger-cap companies. Regarding the two “Good Ideas” tables shown above, the sum of all contributors to, and all detractors from, performance for all securities in the portfolio would approximate the Fund’s performance for 2013.

The thoughts expressed in this piece concerning recent market movements and future prospects for small company stocks are solely the opinion of Royce at December 31, 2013, and, of course, historical market trends are not necessarily indicative of future market movements. Statements regarding the future prospects for particular securities held in the Funds' portfolios and Royce's investment intentions with respect to those securities reflect Royce's opinions as of December 31, 2013 and are subject to change at any time without notice. There can be no assurance that securities mentioned above will be included in any Royce-managed portfolio in the future.

The Fund is a closed-end registered investment company whose shares of common stock may trade at a discount to their net asset value. Shares of the Fund's common stock are also subject to the market risks of investing in the underlying portoflio securities held by the Fund. This Fund is a closed-end fund whose shares of common stock trade on the NYSE. Royce Fund Services, Inc. ("RFS") is a member of FINRA and has filed this material with FINRA on behalf of the Fund. RFS does not serve as a distributor or as an underwriter to the Fund. Russell Investment Group is the source and owner of the trademarks, service marks, and copyrights related to the Russell Indexes. Russell® is a trademark of Russell Investment Group. The Russell 2000 Index is an index of domestic small-cap stocks. It measures the performance of the 2,000 smallest publicly traded U.S. companies in the Russell 3000 Index. The Russell Microcap Index includes 1,000 of the smallest securities in the small-cap Russell 2000 Index, along with the next smallest eligible securities as determined by Russell. The performance of an index does not represent exactly any particular investment, as you cannot invest directly in an index.

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