June 26, 2009 / 9:00 PM / 10 years ago

Star T.Rowe Price fund manager to retire in 2010

BOSTON, June 26 (Reuters) - Fund manager John Laporte, who earned his reputation as a star small-cap stock picker by consistently beating rivals for more than two decades, will retire from the T. Rowe Price New Horizons Fund next year.

Laporte, who is 63 and spent 22 years running the $4.6 billion small-cap growth fund, will hand over the fund’s day-to-day operations to Henry Ellenbogen on March 1, 2010.

Ellenbogen currently manages T. Rowe Price’s Media & Telecommunications fund and will join the New Horizons Fund Investment Advisory Committee on Oct. 1, 2009. Daniel Martino will replace Ellenbogen at his current fund.

Baltimore-based T Rowe Price (TROW.O) plans to tell investors about the expected management changes in a letter that will be sent early next week, a spokesman said on Friday.

The long handover period is typical for T. Rowe Price, a low-key company that prides itself on grooming analysts into portfolio managers, holding on to its employees for years and speaking more to investors than to industry analysts.

Laporte has ranked as one of the money management industry’s biggest stars since being named fund research firm Morningstar’s Fund Manager of the Year in 1995 for having handily beaten the returns of other small-cap stock funds.

Since January, a time most stock mutual funds made only modest gains, the New Horizons fund rose 14.7 percent. Its small-cap growth fund peers returned an average 10.5 percent gain during the same time.

T. Rowe Price said that Laporte will stay with the company as an advisor to younger analysts and managers. (Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Gary Hill)

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