Low-Quality stocks with high gains

For the past three months, small stocks were the big story. Small-cap funds gained 21.5% on average in the quarter, led by small value’s 22.2% rise. Standouts included Aegis Value Fund /quotes/comstock/10r!avalx (AVALX 6.82, -0.23, -3.26%) , up 48.5%, and Wasatch Micro Cap Value Fund /quotes/comstock/10r!wamvx (WAMVX 1.72, -0.05, -2.82%) , up 40%.

Large- and midcap offerings followed with their own strong showings.

Large-cap funds collectively added 16.2%, with large-blend and large-value each up 16.4% and large-growth up 15.6%. Among the top performers were the hardest-hit funds of 2008, such as Vanguard Capital Value Fund /quotes/comstock/10r!vcvlx (VCVLX 6.62, -0.18, -2.65%) , up 39.1%, Yacktman Focused Fund /quotes/comstock/10r!yaffx (YAFFX 12.59, -0.36, -2.78%) , up 36.9%, Legg Mason Value Trust /quotes/comstock/10r!lmvtx (LMVTX 28.64, -1.05, -3.54%) , gaining 29.4%, and Longleaf Partners Fund /quotes/comstock/10r!llpfx (LLPFX 18.90, -0.52, -2.68%) , rising 26.6%.

Midcap funds averaged an 18.4% gain, with midcap-blend up 19.5%, midcap-value adding 18.9% and midcap-growth up 17%. Notables in these categories included a 41.9% gain for Kinetics Small Cap Opportunities Fund /quotes/comstock/10r!kscox (KSCOX 17.31, -0.29, -1.65%) and a 38.1% advance for Fidelity Leveraged Company Stock /quotes/comstock/10r!flvcx (FLVCX 17.14, -0.56, -3.16%) .

The biggest U.S. stock funds, meanwhile, matched the market’s faster pace — and at times outran it.

Dodge & Cox Stock Fund /quotes/comstock/10r!dodgx (DODGX 74.63, -2.68, -3.47%) soared 23.1%, well ahead of the 16.4% average gain for its large-cap value peers. American Funds’ Growth Fund of America /quotes/comstock/10r!agthx (AGTHX 22.49, -0.57, -2.47%) rose 16.7% and Fidelity Growth Company Fund /quotes/comstock/10r!fdgrx (FDGRX 53.82, -1.53, -2.76%) added 15.9% — slightly better than their large-cap growth category’s 15.6% return.

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