Tale of two share values

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INVESTMENT trusts buy shares in other companies. They provide a low-cost route into the stock market for small investors who need to spread their risk.

The trusts' shares are traded, and investors make profits or losses from the rise or fall in their value.

Investors' stakes in the underlying share portfolio are expressed as the net asset value per share. The price paid for shares in the trust itself may be higher or lower than this.

Unit trusts aim to achieve the same end as investment trusts, but their underlying portfolios are divided into units that are sold on to the investor. So the investor's holding in the fund directly reflects his or her share of the assets.