Investors know that, in efficient markets, getting a high return means taking a high risk. Of course, some risks are higher than others. If investors can get a high return in one asset class and take another risk that's lower than expected relative to that return, then that asset class is probably worth considering for a portfolio.

Mid-cap stocks may be just such an asset class, according to a study by Charlottesville, Va.-based Chase Investment Counsel. Over a 10-, 20- and 30-year period ending last year, mid-caps (generally defined as issues with market capitalizations of $1 billion to $15 billion) have outperformed both large-caps and small-caps on an absolute basis.

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