Tales From a Lunch Table
For a generation of up- and-comers in the money world of Lower Manhattan, the scene was deeply familiar: David Alger's lunch table. Nothing fancy about it ‹ Mr. Alger seemed to thrive on cheeseburgers and apple pie, and any nondescript Wall Street coffee shop would do. His stories are what live on, and the lessons embedded within them about the stock market, and about life.
"I can see him chewing apple pie and telling these stories," said Rob Lyon, who worked for Mr. Alger at Fred Alger Management in the 1980's and remained close. One of Mr. Alger's lunch lessons was that big companies cannot possibly grow as fast as little ones, and that problems in a company ‹ or a life ‹ can never fully be solved in one three-month reporting period. You have to look to the horizon, he would tell the young Turks.
Mr. Alger, who was 57, took over operations at Alger Management from his brother, Frederick, in 1995. But by then his impromptu lunch seminars were Wall Street lore, former pupils like Mr. Lyon said. And strangely, all the stories seemed to have the same opening line: "That reminds me of something," he would say.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 25, 2001.
September 25, 2001
David Alger, Manager of Mutual Funds, Is Dead at 57
By DOUGLAS MARTIN
David Alger, whose approach to investing in stocks propelled the mutual funds he managed to the top of the 90's bull market, died in the collapse of the World Trade Center, his wife, Josephine, said yesterday. He was 57 and had homes in Manhattan and Tuxedo Park, N.Y.
According to Gregory Duch, the executive vice president and chief financial officer of Fred Alger Management Inc., none of the 35 employees in the firm's 93rd-floor office in the north tower at the time of the disaster appear to have escaped.
Mr. Alger, a frequent guest on television shows about Wall Street investments, was known as one of the more prominent opponents of so- called value investing, most famously practiced by Warren E. Buffett. He rejected Mr. Buffett's emphasis on underlying corporate values, relying instead on such factors as his own intricate analyses of future earnings potential. He became a leading proponent of technology stocks.
"He saw things that others didn't," said Don Phillips, managing director of Morningstar Inc., a Chicago firm which tracks the mutual fund industry. "He produced spectacular results."
When David Alger took over the firm's operations from his brother, Frederick, in 1995, it managed $3 billion in assets and 82 employees. At his death, it managed $15 billion and had 220 employees, Mr. Duch said.
Mr. Duch said that Frederick, who had remained as chairman, would return to serve as president and chief investment officer. Frederick's son-in-law, Dan Chung, who previously worked at the firm, will be chief investment officer. The company has continued to do business at its offices in Jersey City and Morristown, N.J.
David Dewey Alger was born on Dec. 15, 1943, in California, and grew up in Grosse Pointe, Mich. He graduated from Harvard where he majored in history, and earned an M.B.A. from the University of Michigan.
In 1968, he began his career as a securities analyst, and in 1972 joined his brother's firm. He ultimately owned 20 percent of the firm, with his brother retaining ownership of the remainder. Frederick moved to Geneva in 1995, leaving David in day-to- day control of the business.
David Alger became known for training analysts in the rigorous research methods he practiced. His elaborate computer-modeling techniques were accompanied by a reliance on old-fashioned legwork. He once dispatched a group of analysts disguised as graduate students to observe the holiday traffic at Toys "R" Us stores.
In addition to his wife and brother, Mr. Alger is survived by a sister, Suzette Howard of Aiken, S.C.; and daughters Cristina de Marigny Alger of Cambridge, Mass.; and Roxanna Geffen of Manhattan.
Editorial Obituary published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on September 25, 2001.