article 12-31-2013

Royce Value Trust Manager Commentary

Royce Value Trust (RVT) gained 34.1% on an NAV (net asset value) basis and 35.6% on a market price basis in 2013, capturing most of the respective gains of 38.8% and 41.3% for its unleveraged small-cap benchmarks, the Russell 2000 Index and S&P SmallCap 600 Index, for the same period.

Equities came off a subdued, in some cases bearish, fourth quarter of 2012 and kicked off 2013 with a dynamic first quarter. RVT gained 10.6% on an NAV basis and 13.7% on a market price basis to finish this bullish quarter, in the latter case outperforming the Russell 2000 (+12.4%) and S&P SmallCap 600 (+11.8%). The second quarter was more volatile and uncertain. Macro concerns once again influenced market sentiment as the globe’s capital markets fell precipitously in late June following the announcement by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke that the central bank was likely to slow the pace of its monthly bond purchases later in the year. Along with less-than-stellar news out of China, Brazil, Turkey, and Europe, and the rapidly rising yield on the 10-year Treasury, these negative headlines helped drive share prices lower. The markets stabilized, however, before the end of June, which enabled most major domestic indexes to finish the period in the black. RVT trailed both of its benchmarks in the second quarter, gaining 1.7% on an NAV basis and 1.9% on a market price basis compared to the Russell 2000’s 3.1% increase and the 3.9% gain for the S&P SmallCap 600.

The second half of the year saw a resumption of the first’s quarter’s feverish pace. The third quarter was another strong bullish period for equities, especially small-caps, which maintained their dynamic showing. On an NAV basis, Value Trust’s 10.5% gain was enough to outperform the Russell 2000’s 10.2% increase though it was not enough to match the S&P SmallCap 600’s 10.7% return. On a market price basis, the Fund increased 7.6%. Fourth-quarter results were in general a bit more muted than those in the first and third, but remained generally robust. During this period, RVT gained 7.9% on an NAV basis and 8.8% on a market price basis, in the latter case beating the Russell 2000’s 8.7% advance but falling short of the S&P SmallCap 600’s 9.8% increase.

While we have generally been pleased with the Fund’s recent performances on an absolute basis, relative results were not as consistent. On an NAV and market price basis, Value Trust outperformed the Russell 2000 for the five-, 15-, 20-, 25-year, and since inception (11/26/86) periods ended December 31, 2013 but only outpaced the S&P SmallCap 600 for the 25-year and since inception periods on an NAV basis and the 25-year period on a market price basis. RVT’s average annual NAV total return for the since inception period ended December 31, 2013 was 11.1%.

Ten of the Fund’s 12 equity sectors finished the year in the black. Industrials made by far the largest positive impact on calendar-year performance, followed by Information Technology, Financials, and Consumer Discretionary. Materials and Diversified Investment Companies detracted from performance, but their net losses were relatively tiny. At the industry level, metals & mining was the Fund’s leading detractor, as businesses could not cope with the respective 36% and 28% drops in silver and gold prices in 2013. Two of the Fund’s top five, and half of its 20, worst performers came from this category. Three other holdings that posted net losses came from outside the industry but nonetheless had significant exposure to it, including two of the Fund’s largest detractors, Central Fund of Canada, and ASA Gold and Precious Metals—both are closed-end funds. After adding shares of each throughout much of the year, we trimmed our positions in December. We parted ways with Hochschild Mining in June and added shares of Canadian gold miner IAMGOLD Corporation. Outside the precious metals area, we significantly built our stake in Daphne International Holdings, a maker and retailer of Chinese footwear that sells Aerosole shoes in China. China’s economic slowdown has hurt its share price as a cutback in consumer spending has contributed to declining sales and revenues. The company’s strong management and market position give us confidence in its long-term potential.

E-L Financial, an investment and insurance holding company based in Toronto, was the Fund’s top contributor and a top-ten holding at the end of 2013. We like its core business and dividend and were pleased to see other investors take note of the company. We trimmed our position in January and then again in December. HEICO Corporation is a tech-driven aerospace, industrial, defense, and electronics company located in Florida. The company benefited from both a recovery and a positive long-term outlook for the airline industry as well as ongoing profitability in its more space and defense-oriented Electronic Technologies Group. This resulted not only in improved margins and earnings, but also better free cash flows. It’s a long-time Royce holding that we think is well managed and a leader in its field. On Assignment runs a global business that provides in-demand, skilled professionals in the technology, healthcare, and life sciences fields. We like its steady earnings and cash flows as well as its niche in staffing industries that we think have very strong growth potential.

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

Top Contributors to 2013 Performance

E-L Financial 0.49%
HEICO Corporation 0.48
On Assignment 0.47
PAREXEL International 0.46
Wabtec Corporation 0.43
1 Includes dividends

Top Detractors from 2013 Performance1

Daphne International Holdings -0.22%
Central Fund of Canada Cl. A -0.19
ASA Gold and Precious Metals -0.15
Hochschild Mining -0.12
IAMGOLD Corporation -0.11
1 Net of dividends

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

  QTR YTD 1YR 3YR 5YR 10YR 15YR 20YR Since
RVT 8.81 35.63 35.63 12.18 20.88 7.47 10.09 10.35 10.30 11/26/1986
XRVTX 7.95 34.14 34.14 11.66 21.27 8.95 10.04 10.80 11.13 11/26/1986
Russell 2000 8.72 38.82 38.82 15.67 20.08 9.07 8.42 9.27 9.81 N/A

Annual Operating Expenses: 0.90%

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. 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 invests primarily in securities of small- and 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 is an unmanaged, capitalization-weighted 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 S&P SmallCap 600 are indices of U.S. large- and small-cap stocks, respectively, selected by Standard & Poor's based on market size, liquidity and industry grouping, among other factors. The performance of an index does not represent exactly any particular investment, as you cannot invest directly in an index.

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