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Colorful management.

Young Garner Asset Management Zooms to the Top, Managing $250 Million

GARNER ASSET MANAGEment Corp., a 2-year-old, Little Rock-based money management firm, continues to net national recognition for its investment results.

In this year's "America's Best Money Managers Top 20 Rankings" by Nelson Publications, an industry yardstick, the company ranked in the top four in three categories and in the top 10 for another five categories.

For example, it ranked third in the country in both five- and 10-year performance for U.S. fixed income-high yield investments, having averaged returns of 16.7 and 16.07 percent, respectively.

While you may not recognize the name Garner Asset Management -- yet -- you probably recognize the names of other list makers such as Vanguard Corp. or J.P. Morgan & Co.

Garner Asset Management deals strictly in fixed-income vehicles, mostly high-yield (junk) corporate bonds, and has a penchant for utilities. Its customers are pension plans, profit-sharing plans, life insurance companies, endowments and hospitals.

While junk bonds have long been considered racy, majority owner Rebecca Garner maintains that she's conservative, a semicontrarian.

"We're boring," she says during a recent interview that belies her. "We like to take a look at things."

Garner says if she can't read the prospectus, she won't buy the bond.

The group manages nine portfolios for six clients totaling $250 million. That makes Garner the fifth-largest company in the state behind First Commercial Capital Management, Worthen Bank & Trust Co., Stephens Capital Management and Meridian Management Co.

Its largest client is First Variable Life, a company that employed Rebecca Garner for eight years before she formed her own group.

Garner has been written up in The New York Times, Barron's (a classic quote in 1988 saying Drexels' "secondary trading sucks pond water") and Pensions and Investment Age, among others. She and her director of research, Glenn Atkins, presented the first case study on junk bonds at Harvard University Business School.

"They know you can run money; they just want to know, 'Can you run a business?'" Garner says of her reputation and new company.

Garner says one of the things that sets the company apart nationally is Carl Pellegrini, a renowned on-staff economist. Most money managers buy their economic research from the big houses. Pellegrini, working out of Dallas, puts out a monthly economic letter for clients.

Elijah Cunningham, managing director, completes the staff -- professionals who drink Nugrapes, and not a tie or pair of pumps in the joint.
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Title Annotation:Garner Asset Management Corp.
Author:Ford, Kelly
Publication:Arkansas Business
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Jul 12, 1993
Words:407
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