Downing Strategic Micro-Cap Investment Trust (LSE:DSM)

“Downing Strategic Micro-Cap Investment Trust Plc – Aims to take influential positions in a focused portfolio of UK micro-caps”

The Trust seeks to provide investors with long-term capital growth through a concentrated portfolio of 12-18 UK listed companies that typically have a market capitalisation of below £150 million (at the time of investment). We define these as micro-caps. The Trust intends to take an influential position (around 3% - 25% equity stake) in each underlying business.



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Portfolio commentary

The Trust’s NAV increased by 0.72% over the period. Positive contributions came from Volex and Ramsdens, while the main detractors were Synectics and Duke Royalty.


Below are a series of announcements we believe indicate that the strategic initiatives we have helped put in place are beginning to deliver on their objective of value realisation:


AdEPT appointed Craig Wilson as a non-executive director.


Braemar announced its results for the six months ended 31 August 2019 and reported strong performance in its core shipbroking division. However, the financial division’s profitability is dependent on the incidence and timing of completed transactions. The board has been significantly refreshed in recent months and remains confident that full year trading is in line with its expectations.


Duke raised a total of approximately £17.45 million via a fundraising. Management’s participation in the raise is a positive sign and gives us further confidence in the strategy. The group seeks to deliver portfolio diversification and income and post-period end announced a follow-on investment of £2 million into its existing royalty partner Lynx UK.  


Pennant announced the award of a new contract valued at circa £3.4 million. Another contract with Qatar achieved acceptance, enabling associated revenues and profits to be recognised in the current year.


Ramsdens announced that performance was in line with management’s expectations in the six months ended 30 September 2019. The group scrapped some slower-moving jewellery stock to take advantage of a relatively high gold price and will report an additional, non-recurring gross profit of approximately £600,000 in its first half results. Real Good Food appointed Paul Richardson as executive director and Gail Lumsden as non-executive director.

Synectics warned that results for the year ending 30 November 2019 would be materially below market expectations. The core systems division has performed well but this has been offset by weakness in its UK integration businesses. Despite immediate challenges, the board sees increasing opportunities to capitalise on the group’s position in the market for complex surveillance solutions.


Volex share price increased and we believe this was due to greater appreciation by the market of the positive transformation in recent months and in anticipation of the group reinstating the dividend at its interim results in November.

Judith MacKenzie



Lead Investment Manager

Judith founded Downing Public Equity in 2009 and was named Small-Cap Fund Manager of the Year at the Small- Cap Awards in 2013 and 2015 for the Downing UK Micro-Cap Growth Fund.

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Investment rationale

     Private-equity approach to research and engagement seeks to unlock greater shareholder value over the longterm.

     We believe a strategic, proactive investment approach can help smaller companies realise their potential.

     UK microcaps offer a wider investment universe and can offer better value relative to larger caps (Factset).

Share price information, the latest investor letter which contains comprehensive information on the Trust’s performance, strategy and holdings, plus historical factsheets, RNS announcements, and

video interviews with the manager, are all available

to download from the homepage of the Downing Strategic Micro-Cap Investment Trust website.

Trust objectives:

The Trust aims to generate a return of 15% p.a. compound over the long term. Please note that this is a target only and is not guaranteed.

The Manager employs a value approach and seeks to be influential through taking strategic stakes.

The Trust seeks to hold a concentrated portfolio between 12-18 holdings.

The Trust will typically hold between 3 – 25% of the equity of investee companies, notwithstanding ability to use debt instruments alongside equity.

Long-term investment horizon over three to seven years.


Buyback mechanism for up to 14.99% of the equity of the Trust seeking to closely control discount (at the Board’s ultimate discretion and subject to shareholders’ annual approval).

Company information

Launch date 9 May 2017
Morningstar sector UK Smaller Companies


Judith MacKenzie

James Lynch

Alyx Wood

Nick Hawthorn


Hugh Aldous, Chairman
Andrew Griffiths, Non-Executive Director

Linda Bell, Non-Executive Director

Robert Legget, Non-Executive Director

Risk warning: 

Your capital is at risk. Investments and the income derived from them can fall as well as rise and investors may not get back the full amount invested. Investments in smaller companies will normally involve greater risk or volatility than investments in larger, more established companies. Performance figures are taken from daily valuations provided by Maitland Institutional Services Limited. Return is the total return (value of the investments plus cash including income after all expenses and charges), ignoring taxation. Because shares in an investment Trust are listed on the London Stock Exchange their price is affected by supply and demand. This means that the share price may be different from the NAV. The Company’s investment strategy may involve the use of leverage, which exposes the Company to risks associated with borrowings. Please note that past performance is not a guide to future performance.

Important notice

This document has been approved and issued by Downing LLP (“Downing”), St Magnus House, 3 Lower Thames Street, London EC3R 6HD. This document is for information only and does not form part of a direct offer or invitation to purchase, subscribe for or dispose of securities and no reliance should be placed on it. Opinions expressed in this document represent the views of the Investment Manager at the time of publication, are subject to change, and should not be interpreted as investment advice. You should only invest based on the information contained in the relevant product literature available from Downing. Downing does not offer investment or tax advice or make recommendations regarding investments. Please see the relevant product literature for details of charges; your attention is drawn to the risk factors contained therein. Downing is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Firm Reference No. 545025). Registered in England No. OC341575.

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The value of investments can go down as well as up and you may get back less than you invested. 
We provide information about investments but do not offer personal advice and recommendations. We do not hold responsibility for assessing the suitability of an investment or evaluating the risks of such an investment for you.  If you are in any doubt as to these risks or the suitability of an investment.  Y
ou should seek independent advice.