The large-cap benchmarks reached record highs in the quarter but gave back much of those gains and ended only slightly higher. Smaller-cap stocks performed better, helped in part by their lower exposure to foreign markets, which have become more challenging for U.S. firms because of the strong U.S. dollar. Within our investment universe, hardware and media stocks saw good gains, while software and telecommunications equipment stocks recorded modest losses. Semiconductor shares rose slightly.
The Global Technology Fund returned 4.14% in the quarter compared with 2.84% for the MSCI All Country World Index Information Technology and 2.90% for the Lipper Global Science / Technology Funds Index. For the 12 months ended March 31, 2015, the fund returned 21.40% versus 16.46% for the MSCI All Country World Index Information Technology and 14.43% for the Lipper Global Science / Technology Funds Index. The fund's average annual total returns were 21.40%, 20.12%, and 14.53% for the 1-, 5-, and 10-year periods, respectively, as of March 31, 2015. The fund's expense ratio was 0.95% as of its fiscal year ended December 31, 2013.
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We have a very large overweight in the media segment, where companies are benefiting from the increased global availability of the Internet and the consequent adoption of online services. Market-leading companies are able to exploit growing global demand for data, content, and e-commerce. Conversely, we are significantly underweight in the mature hardware segment, which offers fewer of the long-term growth opportunities that we seek.
Although we remain enthusiastic about the substantial growth potential of our core holdings, we have muted expectations for the global technology sector as a whole in the coming months. Growth in the global economy remains weak, and the recent surge in the U.S. dollar appears to be a taking a toll not only on U.S. exporters, but also on real demand in the global technology sector (many electronic components are priced in U.S. dollars and thus have become more expensive to buyers everywhere). The sector is also struggling with more structural challenges as growth slows in the maturing smartphone market and recent hopes for a rebound in PC demand have not panned out. Given these obstacles, we are focusing on companies serving markets that are still growing strongly, such as Chinese Internet firms. We also favor leading firms in the U.S. and elsewhere that rely less on a strong economy because they are exploiting technology to seize share in a variety of markets from slower-footed competitors. As we have previously warned shareholders, this may leave the portfolio exposed to above-average volatility if stocks pull back significantly and investors seek security in slower-growing incumbents with ample cash reserves. We think that a more prudent approach is to focus on firms with solid prospects over the longer term, however, and we believe substantial opportunities still exist for patient technology investors.