After a long break, it's always good to reassess and reaffirm. So after a three-week hiatus, Bottom of the Barrel returns with a review of the mission and methods of this weekly small-cap column. It's been nearly two years since this column debuted, but its goal remains the same: to uncover small-cap companies (typically less than $1 billion in market cap) that are unknown, underfollowed by traditional analysts and underappreciated by investors. In a universe dominated by large-cap, blue-chip offerings, these are companies you've either never heard of or typically wouldn't think twice about. They not only hold the potential to become tomorrow's blue-chips, but also have some compelling stories, even among those destined to remain small. I've profiled several relatively unknown companies, such as Met-Pro ( MPR), which produces pollution-control and fluid-handling equipment used in a wide variety of industries. This $88 million market-cap company has a solid balance sheet, forward-thinking management, steady growth and dominance in a niche market. Yet it's too small to garner any interest from analysts. The result: Since it was
profiled here in October 2001, its stock has gained more than 27%, not including an attractive (and safe) 2.5% dividend yield.