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John W. Rogers launched Ariel Investments in 1983 after working as a stockbroker for 2.5 years at William Blair & Company, LLC. In 2008, John was awarded Princeton University’s highest honor, the Woodrow Wilson Award, presented each year to the alumni whose career embodies a commitment to national service. He received an AB in economics from Princeton University where he served as captain of the 1979–80 Ivy League co-champion Princeton Tigers men's basketball team.

When he started his own investment company, the sole major account he had was the $100,000 worth of Howard University's endowment fund. In the period from 1983 to 1986, Ariel Capital's managed assets grew to $45 million.

According to 13F filings, Rogers' Ariel Investments has had at least 116 securities with a total value of $5.7 billion as of March 31, 2011. In the first quarter of 2011, he sold four securities and bought seven new securities. The stocks that Rogers sold out in the first quarter were Beckman Coulter, Inc. (NYSE:BEC), Laboratory Corp. of America (NYSE:LH), Constellation Brands, Inc. (NYSE:STZ) and Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE:TM).

On May 10, 2011 Rogers disclosed that he sold 2.6 million shares of Lee Enterprises (NYSE:LEE). Just a month ago the stock was trading above $3. Rogers sold his shares at the end of April when the stock was trading around $1.50. At the end of December, Ariel Investments owned 7.4 million shares. Jim Simons’ Renaissance had 94,000 shares of LEE in its portfolio as well.

During the first quarter of 2011, Rogers placed new bets on First American Financial Corp. (NYSE:FAF) by investing $71 million. He also purchased 1.1 million shares of Madison Square Garden, Inc. (NASDAQ:MSG). He increased his Zimmer Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:ZMH) position to $161 million by buying 1.5 million shares during the first quarter of 2011.

Here is how Rogers' top picks performed since the end of March 2011:

Stock

Value
(Millions)

Return
Since Mar 31,2011

Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE:GCI)

217.4

-3.6%

DeVry Inc. (NYSE:DV)

215.9

-5.8%

Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. (NYSE:JLL)

210.8

-2.7%

CBS Corp. (NYSE:CBS)

204.4

7.8%

Lazard Ltd (NYSE:LAZ)

200.2

-7.2%

Mohawk Industries, Inc. (NYSE:MHK)

180.5

6.8%

Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE:BIO)

175.1

3.3%

Janus Capital Group Inc. (NYSE:JNS)

173.8

-17.9%

Interpublic Group of Cos., Inc. (NYSE:IPG)

171.1

-5.4%

Zimmer Holdings, Inc. (ZMH)

160.9

11.8%

CB Richard Ellis Group, Inc. (NYSE:CBG)

160.0

0.1%

Stanley Black & Decker, Inc. (NYSE:SWK)

155.8

-1.6%

J.M. Smucker Co. (NYSE:SJM)

144.6

9.6%

International Game Technology (NYSE:IGT)

130.2

9.8%

Tiffany & Co. (NYSE:TIF)

118.3

12.7%

Interface, Inc. (IFSIA)

117.6

5.4%

Nordstrom, Inc. (NYSE:JWN)

116.7

1.6%

IDEX Corp. (NYSE:IEX)

116.6

2.5%

Brink's Co. (NYSE:BCO)

116.6

-13.4%

Dun & Bradstreet Corp. (NYSE:DNB)

112.0

1.0%

Brady Corp. (NYSE:BRC)

107.1

-2.1%

Fair Isaac Corp. (NYSE:FICO)

106.4

-9.1%

City National Corp. (NYSE:CYN)

95.0

-2.4%

Herman Miller, Inc. (NASDAQ:MLHR)

92.8

-13.9%

Hospira, Inc. (NYSE:HSP)

90.8

-0.3%

Viacom, Inc. (NASDAQ:VIA)

84.5

13.5%

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE:RCL)

82.1

-3.0%

Accenture plc (NYSE:ACN)

75.7

5.3%

Meredith Corp. (NYSE:MDP)

75.0

-5.8%

HCC Insurance Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:HCC)

73.9

4.0%

Value Weighted Return

4,082

-0.2%

SPY

N/A

0.8%

Rogers' largest stock holdings have lost 0.2% since the end of first quarter 2011, vs. a 0.8% gain for the SPY. Gannett Co., Inc. was Rogers' biggest investment at the end of March 2011. GCI has lost 3.6% since then, underperforming the SPY’s 0.8% return. Rogers has $217 million invested in GCI. The stock has a market cap of $3.5 billion, dividend yield of 1.1% and P/E ratio of 6.3. GCI is one of the 27 out of favor stocks that hedge funds and analysts love. Warren Buffett also had GCI in his portfolio at the end of 2010.

DeVry Inc. was Rogers' second biggest investment at the end of March 2011. DV has lost 5.8% since then, underperforming the SPY’s 0.8% return. Rogers has $216 million invested in DV. The stock has a market cap of $3.6 billion and P/E ratio of 11.3.

Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. has lost 2.7% since March, underperforming the SPY by 3.5 percentage points. Rogers had nearly $211 million invested at the end of March. JLL recently traded at $96.9 and has a 0.3% dividend yield. The stock has a market cap of $4.2 billion and P/E ratio of 28.

CBS Corp. has gained 7.8% since March, outperforming the SPY by 7 percentage points. Rogers had nearly $204 million invested at the end of March. CBS recently traded at $27 and has a 1.5% dividend yield. The stock has a market cap of $18 billion and P/E ratio of 19.9. Chris Shumway had $181 million in CBS at the end of December. First Eagle Investment Management, Renaissance Technologies, Adage Capital and JAT Capital also had large investments in CBS at the end of 2010.

John Rogers slightly underperformed the market since the end of March. However, this gave us the opportunity to imitate his top holdings at a discount to the actual prices paid by Rogers. We don't have to pay him any management fees either. We believe these stock picks will be able to beat the S&P 500 index over the next 12 months.

Source: John Rogers' Favorite Stock Picks