All Star small caps: Our picks gained 58% in 2017 - MoneySense

All Star small caps: Our picks gained 58% in 2017

A strong year for U.S. small caps, with only a few duds spoiling the party

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Our small All Star stocks generated big gains since we last visited them in 2016.  They climbed 58.1% on average and nearly all of them gained ground.  More than half of them provided returns north of 50% and more than a dozen posted returns in excess of 100%.

The period of plenty for the All-Star stocks spanned from February 11, 2016 to November 14, 2017.  To put the overall returns into more familiar annual terms, a 58.1% gain over the period is equivalent to a 29.8% return on an annualized basis.

The top performing All Star was MKS Instruments which shot up 230%.  The firm makes equipment for the semiconductor business and is based in Andover, MA.  Its shareholders benefited from a surge in earnings and the stock got a boost when it was recently inducted into the S&P MidCap 400 index.

The second-best performer was Kadant which jumped 170%.  The industrial company based in Westford, MA. makes machines for the paper and wood processing market.  Its stock was propelled by revenue and earnings growth.

A total of 13 All Stars posted gains of more than 100% since last time and 37 of the 71 managed gains of more than 50%.  That’s pretty good even if we say so ourselves.  But it wasn’t all roses.  There were a total of two duds in the group that lost money.

Seneca Foods of Marion, NY slipped 21% on uneven trading.  Its packaged fruit and vegetable business suffered a little freezer burn due to earnings weakness.

The worst showing came from heath care products distributor Aceto, which dropped 52%.  While the company grew its revenues over the last two years, its earnings have declined each quarter (on a year-over-year basis) for more than a year.  The poor earnings trend helps to explain its slumping stock.

But the winners more than made up for the losers leading to a whopping average return of 58.1%.  We would love to see similar returns in the future.

Last year’s All-Star performance


Rank Name Total Return
1 MKS Instruments Inc 229.79%
2 Kadant Inc 169.85%
3 KMG Chemicals Inc 160.34%
4 Pegasystems Inc 151.11%
5 Walker & Dunlop Inc 135.55%
6 KapStone Paper and Packaging Corp 130.93%
7 IXYS Corp 126.59%
8 Alamo Group Inc 126.34%
9 Employers Holdings Inc 115.35%
10 Viad Corp 110.86%
11 Sanderson Farms Inc 107.31%
12 Barnes Group Inc 105.94%
13 QAD Inc 104.22%
14 Greenbrier Cos Inc/The 84.12%
15 Universal Forest Products Inc 82.84%
16 Simpson Manufacturing Co Inc 79.29%
17 1st Source Corp 79.13%
18 Heartland Financial USA Inc 77.97%
19 Washington Federal Inc 75.82%
20 Independence Holding Co 73.68%
21 Chemical Financial Corp 72.03%
22 United Financial Bancorp Inc 71.31%
23 Hooker Furniture Corp 70.90%
24 Atwood Oceanics Inc 67.63%
25 Boston Private Financial Holdings Inc 66.76%
26 S&T Bancorp Inc 66.20%
27 AVX Corp 65.93%
28 TeleTech Holdings Inc 62.54%
29 Sandy Spring Bancorp Inc 62.28%
30 InnerWorkings Inc 62.15%
31 Korn/Ferry International 59.00%
32 Provident Financial Services Inc 54.04%
33 Interface Inc 53.61%
34 Brookline Bancorp Inc 53.26%
35 Aircastle Ltd 53.04%
36 Berkshire Hills Bancorp Inc 52.75%
37 Superior Uniform Group Inc 50.73%
38 Infinity Property & Casualty Corp 45.96%
39 Innospec Inc 45.88%
40 Simmons First National Corp 45.77%
41 Banc of California Inc 44.82%
42 FBL Financial Group Inc 40.61%
43 Kaman Corp 40.39%
44 J&J Snack Foods Corp 35.69%
45 Werner Enterprises Inc 34.59%
46 Encore Wire Corp 34.12%
47 United Fire Group Inc 33.48%
48 Miller Industries Inc/TN 32.27%
49 Hope Bancorp Inc 32.24%
50 EMC Insurance Group Inc 29.25%
51 Ensign Group Inc/The 29.09%
52 Flexsteel Industries Inc 27.84%
53 International Speedway Corp 27.34%
54 Donegal Group Inc 26.75%
55 Ennis Inc 25.17%
56 State Auto Financial Corp 21.31%
57 Carriage Services Inc 20.08%
58 Navigant Consulting Inc 20.03%
59 Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc 19.08%
60 Movado Group Inc 19.04%
61 CSG Systems International Inc 18.99%
62 PC Connection Inc 17.22%
63 Weyco Group Inc 15.83%
64 Scholastic Corp 15.08%
65 Entercom Communications Corp 14.53%
66 Investment Technology Group Inc 10.08%
67 Village Super Market Inc 3.34%
68 PDL BioPharma Inc 0.90%
69 National Penn Bancshares Inc 0.28%
70 Seneca Foods Corp -21.46%
71 Aceto Corp -51.58%

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