TheStreet.com Ratings provides exclusive stock, ETF and mutual fund ratings and commentary based on award-winning, proprietary tools. Its "safety first" approach to investing aims to reduce risk while seeking solid outperformance on a total return basis.BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- My love for food stocks is not unrequited. Lance ( LNCE), Cott ( COT), J&J Snack Foods ( JJSF), J.M. Smucker ( SJM) and TreeHouse Foods ( THS) -- companies I've highlighted in our "Under the Radar" series -- have jumped more than 19% since mid-June, outperforming the 17% gain of the S&P 500 Index. Our quantitative model deemed these stocks undervalued at the time, but investors have since bid them up to excessive prices. TreeHouse, Lance and J&J Snack are trading at sizable premiums to the market. Many investors are bracing for a market correction after stocks hit their highest levels in almost a year on Wednesday. Food stocks are usually considered steady bets because of their low volatility and resistance to economic swings. But when safe plays jump this much in a short period, it makes you question how safe they truly are. I decided to review companies I've profiled in "Under the Radar." Since the series began in May, my picks have risen 9% on average. Sixty four of the 91 stocks I've recommended, or 70%, have gained value. Of the decliners, the average drop is 4%. Top performers include Ebix ( EBIX), NVE ( NVEC), Broadpoint Gleacher Securities Group ( BPSG), Marvel Entertainment ( MVL) and Knight Capital Group ( NITE). Each climbed more than 30% since they appeared in "Under the Radar." In total, 37% of my picks have posted a double-digit gain, with 19% rising 20% or more. Individual investors watched their portfolios lose more than a third of their value last year as the recession took hold. It's great that so many have been able to recover some of their losses, but a sense of entitlement to further appreciation is dangerous.
The excesses of the past decade have not been cured in six months, despite what the market might indicate. A 50% rally over such a short period is unprecedented. Small-cap stocks, in particular, have had a tremendous run. We hope the party can last, but there's no harm in reducing risk and protecting some of your gains. -- Reported by Jake Lynch in Boston. Follow TheStreet.com on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.