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 segment, both media and telecommunication services stocks saw modest gains for the quarter, while software shares performed better and information services stocks were very strong. Telecommunications equipment stocks lost ground.
The Media & Telecommunications Fund returned 3.00% in the quarter compared with 2.24% for the Lipper Telecommunication Funds Average. For the 12 months ended March 31, 2015, the fund returned 9.32% versus 4.46% for the Lipper Telecommunication Funds Average. The fund's average annual total returns were 9.32%, 17.28%, and 15.14% for the 1-, 5-, and 10-year periods, respectively, as of March 31, 2015. The fund's expense ratio was 0.80% as of its fiscal year ended December 31, 2013.
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The portfolio remains much more focused on media stocks than telecom shares. We perceive that opportunities are much more limited among telecom firms, which are facing significant regulatory and competitive issues. We would consider increasing our allocation to this defensive segment, however, if we develop conviction that an economic downturn is imminent. Within media, our focus is on nontraditional firms that are exploiting the Internet and other new technologies to seize market share from traditional media companies struggling with falling advertising revenues and the shift to online video. We see significant opportunities in the e-commerce industry, which has a long and visible path for future growth. We also engage the firm's global staff of analysts to find opportunities in non-U.S. markets, particularly in the rapidly growing Chinese Internet sector.
We expect that 2015 is likely to resemble 2014 for media and telecommunications investors, with a muted economic environment offering modest returns for most stocks in our universe. Relatively full valuations will also likely keep a lid on gains, although we do perceive some pockets of attractive valuations. Traditional media firms will continue to struggle with a soft advertising market, but even more so as viewers to other content sources; indeed, we expect that 2015 will be an important year for online video. As a result, we are focusing on high-quality companies with strong brands that are less susceptible to declining advertising spending. Mergers and acquisitions are likely to continue within the telecommunications and cable industries, although probably at a reduced pace following a number of important deals in 2014.