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Small caps just keep on winning

Small-cap companies outperformed their bigger cousins again in 2004, a trend that a joint ABN Amro and London Business School study released last month finds consistent with results over the past five years worldwide and over the past 50 years in the UK.

In 2004 the Hoare Govett Small Companies and HG 1000 indices, representing the bottom 10% and 2% of the UK equity market respectively, reached all-time highs and outperformed the FTSE All-Share Index by more than 7%. Over the past 50 years the two UK indices have outperformed the FTSE All-Share by 3.5% and 5.7%.

Over the 50 years between 1955 and 2004, the smallest 10% of companies in the UK provided the highest annualized return, 31.6%, and successive deciles had consistently lower performance, with the largest achieving an annualized return of 13.9%.

A sum of £1,000 invested in the HGSC Index in 1955 would today be worth £1.8 million, with dividends reinvested, compared with just £400,000 for the FTSE All-Share. The same sum invested in the HG 1000 would now be worth £4.6 million.

Small companies outperformed large ones by three percentage points in the UK over the five years between 2000 and 2004.

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