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?:

Eley recalls. And in serving as the chief investment guide for his family’s investment club, he got to know the market.

Tracing the foundation of Eley’s education reads like a value-investing Hall of Fame. Foremost are his favorite volumes on stock analysis written by financial gurus Benjamin Graham, David Dodd and Warren Buffett. Eley’s favorite readings included works that drove home the analysis of companies on a statistical basis to find shares that were intrinsically worth more than their share price. While in college and law school, Eley continued boning up, occasionally researching investments as sophisticated as commodities. After graduating from Yale in 1974, and law school at the University of Chicago, Eley took a job as a bond lawyer for the Omaha firm of Kutak Rock.

His interest in the stock market remained keen. “Word got around Kutak that Eley had a knack for choosing companies, and soon everyone in the firm would stop by his office and pick his mind on the market,” says Raymond McGaugh, who met Eley at Kutak and began his own private tutorial. “He’d always give you books to read, and have a comment or opinion on every facet of investing.” McGaugh, who joined the company full time as vice president of finance in 1995, wasn’t alone. Soon, partners at the firm established a trust and approached Eley to invest the funds they had gathered. “People knew I was making consistent gains with my method, and so they called on me to lend my expertise.” No doubt, Eley’s skills helped him rise through the ranks of Kutak, earning him a promotion to a partner at the firm in less than four years. “It’s at that moment I knew managing money was the life for me,” he recalls.

To get started on a new career path, Eley again turned to rtended family for seed money and support. He enlisted his four siblings and mother as his first clients and expanded from there. To thank his mother, Eley dubbed his new venture the Edgar Lomax Co. after his maternal grandfather. Although Eley never knew his grandfather, he had learned from family lore that Lomax was a shrewd investor in his time, who, along with Eley’s mother, acquired real estate and managed rental properties. Edgar Lomax may have died shortly before Eley’s mother was born, but the man manages to live on in Eley’s work in other more mysterious ways. “We get calls all the time for Edgar Lomax, and one outside investment professional has even told his clients he could set up an interview,” laughs McGaugh. A more fitting tribute to Lomax, however, is Eley’s impressive track record. Since he started the firm in 1986, Eley has seen assets under management mushroom, today amounting to about $470 million in funds for institutional clients, such as pension programs for the cities of Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, the state of Florida as well as corporate clients including Essence Magazine, Ameritech and Marriott International. The Edgar Lomax Co. is,

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