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BlackRock’s Doll to Retire as Chief Equity Strategist

BlackRock Inc. Chief Equity Strategist Robert Doll
Robert Doll, chief equity strategist of BlackRock Inc. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

BlackRock Inc., the world’s biggest money manager, is losing its Chief Equity Strategist Robert Doll as Chief Executive Officer Laurence D. Fink advises investors to put more money in stocks.

Doll, who has worked in the asset-management industry for 34 years, is retiring to devote more time to his family, faith and philanthropic interests, Bobbie Collins, a spokeswoman for the New York-based firm said yesterday. Doll, 57, has managed BlackRock’s series of large-cap funds since they were started by Merrill Lynch & Co. in 1999.

“I’ve decided that now is the right time for me to shift my priorities and move to the next chapter of my life,” Doll said in an internal memo sent to employees yesterday.

Doll, known for his bullish stance on stocks, said in January that U.S. equities would produce double-digit returns in 2012. The benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 Index advanced 1.6 percent this year through June 4. Fink, who co-founded BlackRock in 1988, has been touting equities while warning about the dangers of staying in cash-like products and focusing on short-term investing.

Doll joined Merrill Lynch in June 1999 and was named president of the firm’s investment unit in 2001. He came to BlackRock in 2006, when the money manager purchased the investment unit from Merrill Lynch, bringing its assets above the $1 trillion mark. Other top Merrill executives who joined BlackRock, Robert Fairbairn and Frank Porcelli, are both still with the firm. Merrill Lynch was acquired by Bank of America Corp. in 2009.

Doll’s Funds

Chris Leavy, chief investment officer of fundamental equities for the Americas, and Peter Stournaras, who has co-managed the funds with Doll since 2010, will take over management of the funds immediately and Doll will work closely with them until his departure on June 30. Doll will stay on at BlackRock, which manages $3.68 trillion in assets, in an advisory role through the end of this year.

BlackRock in December 2009 acquired the investment unit from Barclays Plc to add passive products such as exchange-traded funds to its stable of actively-managed stock and bond funds. BlackRock manages $1.4 billion in passive stock products including ETFs and $297 billion in active equities.

Under Doll, BlackRock’s Large Cap Growth Fund has beaten 59 percent of its peers with a 12 percent average annual return over the past three years, while falling 6 percent over the past 12 months to trail 83 percent of peers, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Annual Predictions

The Large Cap Core Fund returned an annual 9.1 percent and trailed 83 percent of peers over a three-year period. It fell 10 percent during the past year to trail 97 percent of peers. The firm’s Large Cap Value Fund had an average annual return of 6.4 percent over three years, falling behind 95 percent of peers and declined 13 percent over one year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Doll, who publishes an annual list of 10 market predictions, said in his 2012 outlook that the European debt crisis would begin to ease, U.S. equities would beat non-U.S. stocks for the third year in a row and Republicans would capture the Senate and defeat President Barack Obama.

He graduated from Lehigh University and received his MBA from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. Doll serves on boards for groups including the Word of Life Fellowship and Kingdom Advisors, according to their websites.

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