A few years ago, fund companies took heat for letting large, special status customers quickly buy and sell swaths of stock to capitalize on small movements in price. So-called market timing, watchdogs warned, hurts those investors who buy and hold their funds, typically the little guys.

But a recently released independent analysis of trading activity at Columbia Funds between 1998 and 2003--the year the scandal broke--shows that two-thirds of those who timed the market had no special arrangements with the firm. Moreover, during that 5-year span, Columbia's gains were stunted by about $150 million, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal.

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