Our three-year-old share picker leaves the professionals behind

A year ago we invited Amber Stevenson, the three-year old daughter of our City Editor, to test her mettle against the professionals by picking out 10 stocks at random with the use of a dart.

Not only did her selection comprehensively outperform that of her father, it also beat the share tips chosen by our panel of investment fund managers by a handsome margin. The average percentage increase in the stocks chosen by Amber was a thumping 41 per cent - double the rise in the FT All Share Index.

The star performer for Amber was the building and construction group Jarvis, whose shares soared from 142.5p to 398p - a gain of 179 per cent. Only three shares fell in value and one of those was also in the building sector, Linden slipping by 20p or 6 per cent over the year.

Elsewhere, it was a story of unalloyed success, spiced up by picking one takeover target (T&N) and a recovery stock, MDIS, which was a basket- case at the start of the year following a string of profit warnings but which ended the year 42 per cent higher.

Her other big hitter was the business support services group Lavendon, which cashed in on the outsourcing craze, rising in value by 129 per cent from 157.5p to 360.5p. Her other tips were Tesco (+40 per cent), Critchley (-18 per cent), Roxspur (unchanged), Aukett (-21 per cent) and Gartmore British Income Trust (+10 per cent).

This year Amber has passed the baton, or rather the pin, to Ellen Harrison, aged four and a half, the daughter of The Independent's Deputy Business and City Editor.

Ellen clearly has a job on her hands if she is to outdo Amber but she has picked an interesting selection which runs as follows: Filtronic at 442.5p, Bodycote (903.5p), Peptide Therapeutics (266.5p), Signet (30p) Newcastle United (94.5p), Chez Gerard (282.5p), Nycomed Amersham (2262p), Zeneca (2137p), Carpetright (445p) and Fitzwilton (40p).

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