Markets

Our Team Gains 29%

The scorecard on last year's stock picks.

Last year we asked seven portfolio managers for their best ideas, and the 22 stocks they offered made up quite a portfolio (see Hot Hands, Hot Picks). Seventeen of them posted double-digit gains, and all but three were in the black for the year. Overall, the picks returned 29% to May 14, including dividends, easily beating the 18% total return of Standard & Poor's 500-stock index.

The top-performing stock was Chaparral Steel (CHAP), picked by Don and Craig Hodges, of the Hodges fund. It soared 129%. The Hodgeses' picks, including Texas Industries (TXI), which spun off Chaparral in 2005, gained an average of 47%.

Rudolph-Riad Younes, manager of Julius Baer International and Julius Baer International II (see The 25 Best Mutual Funds), contributed three big gainers: Mexican homebuilder Homex Development (HXM), up 71%; French cement maker Lafarge (LR), up 38%; and London-based distiller Diageo (DEO), up 28%. Overall, his picks returned 38%.

Hedge-fund manager Joel Greenblatt, of Gotham Capital, gave us two winning ideas: AutoZone (AZO), up 48%, and American Express (AXP), up 20%. Bruce Berkowitz, manager of the Fairholme fund, gave us three picks that produced an average return of 31%. Satellite-TV provider EchoStar Communications (DISH), which vaulted 59%, led the pack.

The picks of Al Frank fund's John Buckingham and CGM Focus's Ken Heebner returned 24% and 16%. One disastrous choice, clothier Christopher & Banks (CBK; down 34%), hurt Nancy Prial, of AMG Essex Small/Micro Cap Growth. Her picks gained just 3%, on average.

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