Tuesday, July 08, 2008

John Templeton, Global Investing Pioneer, Dies at 95

John Templeton, the billionaire U.S. philanthropist who made his fortune as the pioneer of global investing in the postwar boom, has died. He was 95.

Templeton died today at Doctors Hospital in Nassau, the Bahamian island that was his home, his spokesman, Don Lehr, said in a statement. The cause was pneumonia.

The Templeton Growth Fund was one of the first mutual funds to give Americans access to investments in companies abroad. Since its start in 1954, the fund has returned 13.5 percent a year on average, meaning a $10,000 investment would be valued at about $8.5 million as of March 31, including reinvested dividends and capital-gains distributions.

Like Warren Buffett, Templeton developed a cult following, with fund investors flocking to annual meetings to hear his pronouncements. Money magazine in 1999 called him ``arguably the greatest global stock picker of the century.''

A devout Presbyterian, Templeton may be remembered as much for financing the study of spirituality as for his canny investments. In 1972, he set up the $1 million-plus Templeton Prize. Mother Teresa was the first recipient, six years before she collected the Nobel Peace Prize. He always made sure that his award offered more money than the Nobel Prizes.

``What we say about investments isn't as lasting as what we say about spiritual matters,'' Templeton, who was a board member of the American Bible Society, said in a 1993 interview from his home in the Bahamas.

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