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Rand Capital to buy back more shares

The value of Rand Capital Corp.’s investments slipped by less than 1 percent, as the Buffalo venture capital firm expanded its ongoing program to buy back its own shares, which are trading at a steep discount to their asset value.

Rand said its investments were worth $25.1 million, or $3.90 per share, at the end of September, down from $25.5 million, or $3.93 per share, at the end of June.

Most of the drop in Rand’s net asset value came from a write-off of its investment in, a New York City cancer clinical trial matching and referral service. Rand initially invested $778,253 in Emergingmed in 2006, but wrote down almost half of its investment in the company last fall. Rand, in the latest quarter, wrote off the remaining $440,707 of its Emergingmed investment that it was carrying on its books.

Rand said it repurchased 70,143 shares of its stock during the quarter, boosting the total number of shares acquired through its buyback program this year to 185,318. With an average price of $2.90 per share, the repurchased shares were trading at a 26 percent discount from the company’s net asset value.

Because the third-quarter purchases would have left Rand with the authority to buy back only about 60,000 more shares, the company’s board of directors expanded its authorization to repurchase shares to a total of 1 million shares. With more than 438,000 shares already repurchased over the years, the extension will give the company the option of buying back another 562,000 shares through October 2014.

The buyback program helps bolster the company’s net asset value per share by spreading its holdings over a smaller number of shares.

During the quarter, Rand invested $700,000 in SciAps, a Woburn, Mass., company that makes hand-held analytical instruments used in law enforcement, mining and the pharmaceutical industry. The company also invested $600,000 in Intrinsiq Materials, a Rochester company that makes a type of electronic ink that can be used in a room-temperature manufacturing environment on paper, plastics, metal and other materials.

Rand’s stock closed Thursday up 2.17 percent, or 6 cents, at $2.82.