A Fund Manager Is Born

Randall Eley ranked No. 1 on the "A" list of all U.S. equity managers last year, but can he duplicate that stellar performance managing Eugene Profit's new mutual fund?:

Suppose you decided to quit your job and start a mutual fund tomorrow and, as a bonus, you were granted a few wishes. Of course, you’d want an all-star money manager to run things, preferably one who’s earned his or her share of kudos, right? You’d probably ask for a stock market that’s galloping to the heavens. And you’d pray that investors’ money pour into mutual funds at a torrential pace.

That’s exactly what Eugene Profit got last November when his Profit Lomax Value Fund opened shop. A financial consultant turned mutual fund director, Profit lured Randall R. Eley in as his chief investment officer in time for the launch of what is now the nation’s 12th African American mutual fund. As a money manager, Eley has led his investing category for three years with an average annual return of 23.6%. It’s a record that has won him appearances on PBS’s Nightly Business Report, and even prompted Wall Street Week’s Louis Rukeyser to gushingly dub him, “the finest investment manager you’ve never heard of.” And for a crowning touch, Profit’s venture set off just as the Dow Jones industrial average had topped the 6400 mark and investors were drenching mutual funds in some $223 billion in new money.

So what exactly does Profit do to celebrate? He dashes around, day after day, practically door to door, selling his fund–even on weekends when he wishes he could kick back with his wife and daughter. One morning, he’s conducting a conference call to woo nine members of an investment club in Piscataway, New Jersey. Another day, he’s fielding a barrage of probing questions from Links club members in Montgomery County. During the Christmas season, the 32-year-old Profit tirelessly worked the eggnog circuit. He lectured Yuletide gathering after gathering on stocks, bonds, portfolios and, most importantly, his brainchild, the mutual fund. Never mixing business with social pursuits, Profit passed up spreads of ham and sweet potatoes, promptly exiting the minute he finished his presentation. “I’ve got business to do,” says Profit matterof-factly. “Those aren’t settings where I’m going to get up and dance because you never know how seriously they’ll take you after that.”

The sacrifices don’t end on the dance floor. Take one Saturday in early January. A freakishly warm afternoon in Washington is coaxing the mercury up past 65 degrees, summoning almost all of the capital from its pre-Inaugural slumber. Profit, meanwhile, is breaking a sweat indoors. His hosts, a buppie couple, are putting him through the paces, demanding to know why they should invest in his fund and not one of the darling mutual funds they’ve so often seen touted in financial magazines. “Sometimes it’s hard, but when you get down to it, all I have to do is point out Randall’s track record before even mentioning that this is an African American mutual fund,” boasts Profit.

Just as he is making headway, it’s dinner time and the sturdily built 5foot-10-inch former cornerback for the New England Patriots and Washington Redskins begins to

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