Friday, 27 January 2017

Aberforth Smaller - Final Results

The objective of Aberforth Smaller Companies Trust plc (ASCoT) is to achieve a net asset value total return (with dividends reinvested) greater than that of the Numis Smaller Companies Index (excluding Investment Companies) over the long term.

The trusts portfolio is diversified and will normally consist of investments in over 80 individual companies.

In seeking investments the approach will be fundamental in nature involving regular contact with the management of prospective and existing investments in conjunction with rigorous financial analysis of these companies. The emphasis within the portfolio will reflect the desire to invest in companies whose shares represent relatively attractive value and a preference for holdings with low or no gearing.


They have today published final results for the full year to 31st December 2016.(link via Investegate)

Share price total return for the past year is a disappointing -4.2% - due in part to a widening of the discount margin - ompared to its benchmark index, Numis Smaller Companies index - Total Return of 11.1%. The return for the FTSE 100 in 2016 was 19% by way of comparison.

I was pleased to note that management charges have fallen this year and ongoing charges are now 0.9%.

Although this years results have been poor, the trust has been the best performing IT in my portfolio over recent years. Over the past 5 yrs average annualised return for this smaller companies specialist is 17.9% p.a. It is widely accepted that smaller companies is one area where managed funds often produce better returns than the index. For example, the equivalent figure for Vanguard’s Global Small Cap index fund over the past 5 years is 17.2%.

5 Yr Chart  ASL -v- Vanguard Global Small Cap Index
(click to enlarge)


The board are proposing a final dividend of 18.75p making a full year increase of 5.2% to 27.35p per share. In addition, as last year a special dividend of 2.75p is proposed as the trust has received five such dividends from portfolio holdings. Revenue reserves have increased by a further 11.5% to £69.64m (2015 £62.4m).

At the current price of around £11.50, the trust has a yield of 2.4% (excluding the special dividend).

I would not advocate a large holding of small caps in any portfolio, however a weighting of between 5% - 10% is likely to boost total returns for the long term investor.

Although currently not one of the highest yielders in my SIPP, I am happy to continue with Aberforth for the longer term for delivery of growth and steadily rising income.

As ever, slow & steady steps…..


  1. Hi DIY,

    Good to hear the results - Aberforth has been on my watch list for some time, but not yet tucked in, maybe one of the days. It's the relatively low yield and higher price that has put me off, but if they continue to just keep increasing it maybe a few percent wouldn't hurt as part of my IT holdings in general.

    Thanks for doing the analysis as always!

    1. Thanks FiL. The share price can be a little volatile at times however as it is up 15% since December, for now may be wise to wait for the dips - within the past few months it was under £9.00 for example which would give a yield above 3%. Good luck in finding a good entry point.

  2. Vanguard Global smaller companies appears to ba an easy low cost (0.38%) way of investing in smaller companies. It has had a stonking run since launch. That and/or HSBC FTSE 250 look like good funds to tuck away for the long term.
    I have stopped investing in ITs and individual shares, only index funds now. Think I will add the Vanguard fund.

    1. Dylan,

      Yes, you cannot really argue with a return of 40% over the past year and cagr of 14% since launch.

      One of the attractions of ASL for my income portfolio is the yield of 2.6% compared to around half of that from the Vanguard fund.

      Good luck with your addition.