T. Rowe Price chairman Brian Rogers to relinquish fund management duties

Next year, three-decade T. Rowe Price veteran will no longer run the firm's second largest fund

By Trevor Hunnicutt

Jun 3, 2014 @ 12:24 pm (Updated 5:05 pm) EST

t. rowe price, brian rogers, mutual funds, stocks, equities, equity income fund
T. Rowe Price's Brian Rogers (Bloomberg News)

T. Rowe Price Group Inc.'s chairman, Brian C. Rogers, is planning to relinquish his duties as portfolio manager, the fund company said Tuesday.

Mr. Rogers, 58, a value investor who joined the company in 1982, has managed the firm's second-biggest mutual fund, the T. Rowe Price Equity Income Fund (PRFDX), for about three decades.

“While he is not retiring, in reflecting on this milestone, he has decided this will be an opportune time to hand over his portfolio management responsibilities,” the firm said in a statement.

Mr. Rogers has also worked as a portfolio manager on the institutional fund management side of T. Rowe Price's business.

“It's certainly an end of an era,” said Katie Rushkewicz Reichart, an analyst who covers T. Rowe Price for research firm Morningstar Inc. “He's been a great leader at T. Rowe, not only managing this fund but also as chief investment officer and chairman of T. Rowe's board. He's someone who's very respected in the industry.”

Educated in economics and finance as both an undergraduate and a business-school student at Harvard University, Mr. Rogers began his career as an analyst, according to official biographies.

He later joined T. Rowe Price, saying that in his early years he was particularly influenced by Benjamin Graham and David L. Dodd, the Columbia University professors and godfathers of value investing, as well as the legendary Windsor Fund manager John Neff.

Since 2012, despite the stock market's run-up, Mr. Rogers' value-oriented Equity Income Fund has struggled, trailing most of its peers last year and year-to-date, according to Morningstar. Mr. Rogers, like many other fund managers, said it was a struggle for valuation-centric investors to find bargains in last year's bull market rally, when the S&P 500 index gained nearly 30%.

Over the last 15 years the fund has performed in the top third, according to Morningstar.

Portfolio management duties for the fund will be taken over by John D. Linehan, head of U.S. equity for T. Rowe Price and a portfolio manager of one of the firm's institutional funds. He's handing over the U.S. equity role immediately to Bill Stromberg, who has been the firm's head of equity for about five years, according to T. Rowe.

Mr. Rogers will retain his other leadership posts, including chief investment officer, after he gives up portfolio management duties in October 2015.

The early announcement of a leadership change at the $30 billion Equity Income Fund, one of T. Rowe Price's core offerings, is characteristic for a firm that favors choreographed departures, Ms. Reichart said.

That reputation was challenged recently as the firm unexpectedly lost three managers since last year. Those departures included January's announced resignation of P. Robert Bartolo, manager of T. Rowe Price's largest fund, the Growth Stock Fund (PRGFX). He's now on the board of Crown Castle International Corp., a wireless communications company.

In all, T. Rowe Price manages some $711.4 billion.