It's an unfortunate, and frequent, occurrence in the small-cap investing world: Most of the best-performing funds attract a lot of attention and money, forcing many of them to shut their doors to new business. After all, small-cap funds can't function with a huge asset load. They need a smaller profile to jump into and out of smaller companies without moving the market. Fortunately, one first-rate small-cap-focused fund shop remains largely open for business, and it's making plans to expand its fund lineup into one of the more promising sectors of the market.
Expanding their horizons
Royce & Associates has been honing its skills in the small-cap market for nearly four decades. Its value-oriented investment approach has brought Royce tremendous success over the years, and the company boasts many of the most popular small-cap funds around. Its now-closed Royce Premier (RYPRX) clocks in with more than $6 billion in net assets.
Now, Royce is planning to launch four new funds early this year, all focusing on small-fry dividend-producing stocks: Royce Global Dividend Value, Royce International Premier, Royce International Micro-Cap, and Royce Special Equity Multi-Cap.
With the launch of these funds, dividend-seekers now have an expanded universe from which to invest. Small-cap dividend-producing stocks are a much rarer bird than large-cap candidates. The vast majority of dividend-focused mutual funds or exchange-traded funds lean heavily into large- and megacap territory. For example, the Vanguard Dividend Appreciation ETF
A peek inside
While each of Royce's four new funds are likely to vary based on their specific mandate, we may be able to get a clue about what kinds of companies will likely to find their way into the portfolio by looking at Royce's existing dividend offering. Royce Dividend Value (RYDVX) has been around since mid-2004, racking up a pretty solid track record in that time; it bested 93% of all small-cap blend funds over the past five years. The fund is a bit pricey, with a 1.54% expense ratio, but it has managed to get the job done admirably over the years.
Financials play a huge role in this small-cap dividend portfolio, accounting for one-third of fund assets. Here, small-cap names like Federated Investors
Small is beautiful
Of course, if dividends aren't your thing, or you like to stick to larger, more established companies to provide your income, there are still several Royce funds that could fill a role in your overall small-cap allocation. One of my favorites here is Royce Pennsylvania Mutual (PENNX), which looks for financially sound companies going through some kind of setback that leaves them trading at a discount. The fund has been around since 1962, and it ranks in the top 25% of its peer group over the past decade and a half.
Metals and mining stocks have been a huge play for the fund shop in recent years, based in part on management's belief that investors have consistently underestimated the ongoing profitability and dividend income available from some of the better gold-mining companies out there. To that end, Pennsylvania Mutual is heavy in this industry, including names like Agnico-Eagle Mines
If dividends are important to you, I would highly recommend keeping an eye out for Royce's four new small-cap dividend funds. Given the relative dearth of dividend funds on the small-cap side of the market cap spectrum, these new offerings could fill an important space in that arena. Dividends will likely continue to be an important part of many Americans' investment programs in the coming years, so it will be nice to have some further diversification available for dividend-seekers of all stripes.