Small investment firm, founded in 1982, uses 'rigorous discipline'


September 24, 1990|By Blair S. Walker

There's a small investment management firm in Towson that's quietly racking up some impressive rates of return.

An industry publication lists Oxford Capital Management Inc. as having the best return rate among small investment firms in the country with $200 million or less under management. Oxford Capital's five-year rate was 24.6 percent as of Jan. 1, placing it first among 24 competitors.

Founded in 1982 by Baltimorean John G. Danz Jr., Oxford Capital was also ranked first by Nelson Publications for its three-year return rate, which was 21.6 percent. For last year, it was ranked 12th with a 24.75 rate of return.

"We have a very rigorous discipline in place," Mr. Danz said. "We're very quantitative. This business is not a science, but you attempt to put some handles on things to quantify them, particularly risk.

"We buy undervalued securities that represent minimal downside risk, as best we can determine . . . that we think have a meaningful upside potential, and we will hold them until they've realized that."

The other principal of the firm is Harry W. Oldfield Jr. who has been with the company since October 1986. He said that before becoming affiliated with Oxford, he had a business relationship with Mr. Danz that eventually led him to joing the firm.

"It is a quality firm. . . . I wanted to be involved with a small high-quality company that does a good job for our clients," he said.

Oxford Capital is what's known in investment parlance as a "balanced manager," meaning that investors' assets are put into stocks and bonds. Two analysts, four portfolio managers, a marketing director and two administrative employees work for the firm, which recently switched its offices from Timonium to Towson.

Before rushing out to give Oxford Capital money to invest, it's helpful to know that their stated minimum investment is $500,000. That figure weeds out most investors, but anything less makes it difficult to obtain the diversity of stocks and bonds needed for the best possible results, marketing director James I. Lewis said.

At the end of last year, Nelson Publications listed Oxford Capital as having $94 million under management, but that number had shot past $150 million by last week, Mr. Lewis said.

The firm's founder laughingly put that increase in perspective, saying: "It means my payroll expense just went up. We've been hiring some good people," said Mr. Danz, 48. "In an industry with shrinking employment opportunities, we get to pick the best and the brightest. We've taken full advantage of the opportunity."

Oxford Capital also had impressive showing in two other catego

ries ranked by Nelson Publications: Best 25 income managers in firms with less than $200 million under management as of Jan. 1.

Mr. Danz's company had the No. 1 three-year rate of return, with 13.20 percent, and was ranked third under last year's return rate, with 18.06 percent.

A 22-year veteran of the investment business, Mr. Danz was director of research for Baker Watts, now Ferris Baker Watts, before leaving in the early 1980s to start his own investment company.

"I had built up a pretty nice base of clients and most of them came with me, so we started out with an adequate revenue stream," Mr. Danz said. "We could pay the bills and pay ourselves a little salary."

San Francisco-based Money Manager Review ranked Oxford Capital first among 35 balanced managers rated at the end of June. Oxford Capital was shown with a one-year rate of 17.57, a three-year rate of 15.66 and a five-year rate of 21.88.

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