BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Small-cap stocks have rallied this year as investors are more willing to take risks as the economy rebounds.

The small-cap Russell 2000 Index has gained 7.6% this year, three times the pace of the S&P 500 Index of the largest U.S. stocks. As a result, small-company portfolios such as Ratings' Under the Radar portfolio have made investors money.

Since its launch Feb. 26, the Under the Radar portfolio has returned 4.7%, or an annualized 230%. That pace won't be the norm for this year. Over the same period, the S&P 500 has increased 3.5%.

Here's a sampling of some of the best-performing stocks in the portfolio since Feb. 26.

Conseco ( CNO), up 16%. Conseco sells supplemental life insurance and other financial products to seniors. The company missed analysts' fourth-quarter estimates, though the stock is cheap based on its price-to-earnings ratio. Conseco is a favorite of hedge funds.

Einstein Noah Restaurant Group ( BAGL), up 11%. As its ticker symbol shows, Einstein slings bagels. With discounted price-to-earnings-to-growth and price-to-earnings ratios, Einstein is a big-time value stock. It, too, is an institutional favorite: David Einhorn's Greenlight Capital owns a 66% stake.

Diamond Foods ( DMND), up 8.9%. Diamond Foods recently bought Pop-Secret and Kettle Chips. The company has consistently beat analysts' expectations over the past year. While the stock may not appear cheap, it has great growth prospects.

Carbo Ceramics ( CRR), up 7.4%. Carbo Ceramics deals in natural-gas extraction, which is poised to grow as natural gas is increasingly mined from shale deposits. Several factors suggest demand of natural gas will increase greatly in the next few years, and Carbo stands to profit.

Not all of the portfolio picks have panned out as nicely over the past few weeks. China North East ( NEP) and Synaptics ( SYNA) are down about 2.5%. Those investments will be held for a while longer. Still, it's important not to become married to loser picks. Stay tuned.

-- Reported by David MacDougall in Boston.
Prior to joining Ratings, David MacDougall was an analyst at Cambridge Associates, an investment consulting firm, where he worked with private equity and venture capital funds. He graduated cum laude from Northeastern University with a bachelor's degree in finance and is a Level III CFA candidate.