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Big Stocks vs. Small Stocks

MINNEAPOLIS ( Stockpickr) -- The January effect is over. The supposed period when smaller-cap stocks outperform larger-cap stocks did not really materialize this year. In fact, small-cap stocks lost value in the month, while large-cap stocks gained more than 2%.

For the month, the S&P 500 moved higher by 2.3%. The Russell 2,000 was down fractionally. The dichotomy was a bit of a surprise and may signal a shift in where gains are to be had going forward.

Everything in the market tends to revert to the mean. At the start of a new economic cycle, it is said that small-cap stocks gain the most since such companies are more nimble and have the ability to grow earnings quickly.

As the economic cycle matures, it is the big stocks that take over. The underperformance is replaced by outperformance fueled by profit growth during stable economic expansion.

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Some suggest that we are now entering a more mature phase of the recovery and that large cap-stocks are the place to be. Others still think small-cap stocks will do best as earnings growth is still strong.

The debate is an interesting one. In order to further explore the question of big vs. small, I wanted to take a look at specific industries to ascertain what size companies are likely to do best. Where is the best value for an investor looking to maximize returns in the future?

Here is a look at three sectors, with a large and small stock in each.

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