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|Articles - Jan/Feb 2012|
|Thursday, January 19, 2012|
Page 2 of 2
The latest twist has Becker buying into more technology stocks such as Microsoft and Intel. On paper, the companies are trading at more modest prices, compared to their earnings, and they’re winning favor among traditionalists by paying quarterly dividends. But Pat Becker Jr. says less exacting metrics have also made him bullish: He’s noticed, for instance, that analysts are warming to the idea that Intel can compete in the smartphone market.
“If you’re talking to people on a regular basis, you can see when opinions change,” he says.
Becker remains a curious mix of a company at once entrepreneurial and old-fashioned. Within its conservative investment philosophy, it encourages staff to take risks that produce big returns for the company. But character also counts; bonuses are a mix of performance and “nebulous” things like teamwork and amiability around the office.
The family atmosphere extends from the literal to the figurative. While Pat Sr. still clocks in at 6:15 every morning and advises, Pat Jr. helps lead the company (Janeen McAninch is the CEO), his brother, John, runs the IT department and brother-in-law Blake Howells manages portfolios. The rest of the staff has been loyal to a person: Becker hasn’t lost an investment staff member since it started in 1976, though they have had some support staff turnover.)
It could be the old-school benefits that keep them close: The company shares profits up to 20% of an employee’s earnings in good years, and 15 of the 28 staff members own shares in the company. It also pays for things such as a dental plan for dependents, and parking passes.
But Pat Jr. argues there’s a unique temperament he searches out in new hires, which matches Becker’s approach to the market. “The wiring is so important,” he says. In a recent talk put on by Becker in Portland, renowned Wall Street strategist Jason Trennert named the ethos succinctly, saying, “When I think of Becker, I think of the F-word: fiduciary.”
The corporate world is now bending the elder Becker’s way, says Pat Jr. He sees boards behaving ethically and making fiscally sound moves in paying dividends and buying back stock. Still, there’s more to be done to restrain Wall Street from blowing more bubbles and to insulate against risks like flash crashes driven by computer-managed trading. He acknowledges that after this decade, the Occupy Portland protesters that camped out just a block from his office late last year had legitimate grievances.
“They’re right about a lot of stuff,” he says.
Rare honesty from a wealth manager, but then Becker is a rare breed.
|Thursday, December 12, 2013|
BY OB STAFF
In an unprecedented early endorsement, the Oregon Business Association Political Action Committee (PAC) Board of Directors announced yesterday that it has formally endorsed Governor John Kitzhaber for re-election.
|Thursday, January 16, 2014|
BY JOE ROJAS-BURKE | OB BLOGGER
An economic study of emergency room utilization in Oregon set off a thundering media stampede earlier this month. I was struck by the cut-and-paste sameness of much of the reporting and how awfully little it had to say about the untreated wound that is causing all the pain: the hole in our healthcare system where a robust primary care infrastructure should be.
|Tuesday, January 14, 2014|
BY VIVIAN MCINERNY | OB BLOGGER
For Oregon’s comic biz, 2014 is already proving to be a real page-turner.
|Tuesday, February 25, 2014|
BY LINDA BAKER
A blueberry bush is a blueberry bush — except when it’s a blueberry tree.
|Friday, January 03, 2014|
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY | OB WEB EDITOR
Introducing Jessica Ridgway, Oregon Business' new web editor. Ridgway will report on a variety of millennial issues.
|Wednesday, January 22, 2014|
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY
A merger boosts an ethics and compliance firm.
|Tuesday, February 25, 2014|
BY LINDA BAKER
Les Schwab has put a premium on customer service since 1952, when legendary namesake Les Schwab founded the company with one store in Prineville. (Schwab died in 2007.) But if the corporate principles remain essentially the same, the world around this iconic Oregon business has changed dramatically.
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