Best and worst of trusts: Investment Trusts

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INVESTMENT trusts have many merits but they can give investors a rocky ride, rockier at times than unit trusts because the value of their shares is set purely by supply and demand.

This is apparent from the latest share price performance figures. Not only is the difference between the best and worst performing investment trusts enormous over one year, but over one month and five years. For the month, shares in GT Venture rose more than 10 per cent, while Gresham House declined by more than 60 per cent. Over five years, shares in Candover Investments rose by more than 100 per cent, while Gresham House lost a similar amount.

Gresham has run into huge problems with its portfolio of unquoted investments and property companies and recently announced that it had a negative asset value at the end of December.

Sumit, second from the bottom of the league tables over one month, a year and three years, is also a specialist in unquoted stocks. However, Murray Enterprise, the best performer over a year, and GT Venture, the best performer over a month, also specialise in unquoted stocks.

GT invests in private venture capital funds to spread its risk. More than 60 per cent of the portfolio is in the US. It is seeing opportunities to invest in companies that need money to expand. Murray Enterprise has also done well in the US by realising its investments in Fleetcall, a telecommunications company, and Envoy, a computer company, both of which have floated their shares.

----------------------------------------------------------------- INVESTMENT TRUSTS ----------------------------------------------------------------- The best pounds 1 Murray Enterprise 192.34 2 Manakin Hldgs 177.91 3 Scottish Value Trust 132.49 4 Melville Street 127.26 5 Murray Ventures 126.91 The worst 278 City of Oxford - Ord Inc (1995) 43.21 279 River Plate & Gen - Cap (1996) 43.10 280 Scottish National - Cap (1998) 39.66 281 Sumit 35.02 282 Gresham House 18.18 Value of pounds 100 invested over 12 months to 1 August, offer-to-bid, with income reinvested. Source: Micropal -----------------------------------------------------------------