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If a strong investment portfolio consists of a few big winners and a dearth of embarrassing mistakes, then the basket of stocks created by Globe readers as part of our Investing Club Challenge is near-perfect.

Ten months into the one-year competition, the portfolio’s winning stocks – dominated by big technology companies – continue to rally. And the laggards are nursing only modest losses that are exerting little drag on the portfolio’s overall performance.

The result: impressive gains that are trouncing major benchmarks.

The Investing Club Challenge began last March, when we asked Globe readers to submit three stock picks to be held for one year. We received hundreds of submissions, from which a winner will emerge in a couple of months.

In the meantime, we’ve distilled the submissions into what we call the Readers’ Portfolio, which consists of the 12 most popular stock picks.

To be honest, we weren’t sure how this basket would perform, given that it was constructed through consensus rather than individual conviction.

In theory, it could have been susceptible to overhyped names, penny stocks that could go to the moon – or zero – and tilt toward dangerous levels of concentration in a couple of well-worn sectors. Or it could have looked ho-hum by mirroring a major index.

But in the final stretch of the competition, the Readers’ Portfolio is demonstrating an uncanny ability to maintain a good lead over the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and the S&P/TSX Composite Index.

It has generated a return of 29 per cent since the start of the competition on March 13, including dividends, putting it 3.3 percentage points ahead of the total return for the S&P 500 over the same period. It is 18.6 percentage points ahead of the TSX. Beating benchmarks by this much is no small feat, even for the pros – and 10 months into the challenge suggests this outperformance may not be a short-term fluke.

Nvidia Corp., Microsoft Corp. and Shopify Inc. have gained an average of 91 per cent and account for nearly 80 per cent of the portfolio’s gains, highlighting the success of big tech stocks.

Equally impressive, though, just three stocks in the portfolio are underwater since the start of the challenge: Telus Corp., Enbridge Inc. and Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. are down by an average of just 5.7 per cent, including dividends.

The Readers’ Portfolio is also thrashing the Globe and Mail Hot List, the stocks picked by our in-house team of punters. The Hot List is, sadly, light on big winners and heavy on mistakes. Well, at least one of our laggards, First Quantum Minerals Ltd., has rebounded 22 per cent over the past month, so we’re crossing our fingers that the gains continue over the final stretch.

And speaking of gains, the individual performance figures for our readers include some standouts. The top challenger is up 141 per cent as of mid-January. That’s a substantial, 34-percentage-point lead over the second-place challenger, whose stock picks are up 107 per cent.

Following these two leaders, there’s a crowded field of participants: Twelve have gains ranging between 78 per cent and 100 per cent.

No trophies are being handed out yet, though. Over the next two months, these outperformers will have to maintain their grip on the investing challenge – and if they’ve benefited from highly volatile penny stocks, this lead is hardly a sure thing.

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