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Fred Stein, Neuberger Berman Investing ‘Legend,’ Dies at 84

Fred Stein, a self-taught investor who spent three decades as a senior money manager and mentor at the Wall Street firm Neuberger Berman LLC, has died. He was 84.

He died yesterday at his home in New York City, said his daughter-in-law, Carol Baker. The cause wasn’t immediately known. She said he was actively managing money for himself and his family until his death.

Stein joined Neuberger Berman as a partner in 1971 and retired in 2003 after serving as senior portfolio manager and managing director, according to the firm.

“As an investor and colleague, his outstanding traits were an insatiable curiosity and an infectious enthusiasm for new ideas,” Daniel Rosenblatt, a managing director and portfolio manager at the firm who worked with Stein, said in a statement. “The day was always better if one got to spend a part of it with Fred.”

When the firm went public in 1999, Stein held 320,455 shares, or about 0.75 percent, according to a financial filing. The stake was valued at $10.3 million based on the offering price, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Through a family foundation he established, he supported cancer research, education and New York City cultural institutions.

“He was much more successful than he ever wildly dreamed,” Baker said. “He was a Brooklyn boy, son of immigrants, and Wall Street changed his life.”

Friend of Founder

Paul Ross, a money manager who had an office at Neuberger Berman, said Stein was “a legend in the business” for “his understanding of the equity markets.”

Roy Neuberger started the money-management firm in 1939 with Robert Berman, who had been his colleague for a decade at Halle & Stieglitz. The firm was one of the first to offer mutual funds without transaction fees.

Stein and Neuberger “were extremely close and were very good friends,” Ross said. Stein “was a superb money manager for the firm,” he said.

Neuberger, who used his wealth to become a major collector and donor of works of American artists, died in December at age 107.

Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. bought the firm for $2.63 billion in 2003. After Lehman went bankrupt in 2008, an employee-led buyout made Neuberger Berman an independent firm. Neuberger Berman oversees about $198 billion in assets as of June 30, according to a company statement.

Fred Stein was born on Dec. 21, 1926, in Brooklyn. His highest formal education was a high-school equivalency diploma. He spent nine years in the U.S. merchant marine and two years in the U.S. Army before arriving on Wall Street in 1957, according to a 1969 profile in Time magazine. A voracious reader, Stein had become a student of investing after an Army buddy introduced him to Gerald M. Loeb’s “The Battle for Investment Survival,” Time said.

Early Career

His first job in finance, at a firm in California, was writing stock prices on a chalkboard for traders.

Starting as a clerk, earning $50 a week, Stein worked his way up the ranks of Wall Street firms. He became a senior partner and director of research at Oppenheimer & Co., where he earned notice for spotting opportunities in computer and semiconductor stocks. He earned more than $1 million in 1968, according to Time.

In 1969 he became chief executive of Standard & Poor’s/InterCapital Inc., an investment service for affluent clients.

Stein’s three marriages ended in divorce. Survivors include four children and three grandchildren, Baker said.

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