Friday, July 20, 2007

John Rogers: Buy. Hold. Profit. Give Back.

John W. Rogers Jr. is a patient man. The head of Ariel Capital Management in Chicago and manager of the flagship Ariel Fund, Rogers typically holds a stock for four or five years, an eternity compared with the 14-month holding period of the average mutual fund.

In the past decade his fund has earned nearly 14 percent a year, beating the market by more than five percentage points annually and outperforming three-quarters of all similar funds.

Rogers has pulled off this feat while investing much of his own time in two problems that many other leaders have long since given up on: improving inner-city schools and encouraging African Americans to save and invest more.

Rogers donates a hefty share of his firm's profits, helps design teaching curriculums, meets with children and educators, and brings students along to board meetings. Here too, patience is paying off: 80 percent of the eighth-graders who graduate from Ariel Community Academy have been accepted to elite high schools in the Chicago area.

Question: You manage $16 billion without e-mail?

Answer: I don't even have a computer in my office. If I had e-mail, I'd never take the time to read research or absorb information. I want to think about what I'm doing, and that takes time.

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