The low-profile 73-year-old man whose stellar stock picks are often attributed to Warren Buffett is calling it quits.
In her Chicago Tribune column, Melissa Harris breaks the big news that media-shy Lou Simpson will retire at the end of the year.
For decades, he's been quietly, independently, and profitably managing the now $4 billion investment portfolio at Geico, the Berkshire Hathaway insurance subsidiary.
Buffett will take over those responsibilities, but there's some speculation Simpson's departure could create an opportunity for Li Lu, the Chinese investor who Charlie Munger says is a "foregone conclusion" to become one of Berkshire's top decision makers on investments.
Buffett says Simpson never sought approval for his buying and selling decisions. Last year, five million Bank of America shares in Berkshire's portfolio slipped Buffett's mind as he described its bank holdings because it was Simpson who had bought them.
The two men, however, do have very similar investment styles and successes.
In his 2004 letter to shareholders, Buffett said Simpson is "a cinch to be inducted into the investment Hall of Fame," even though sometimes he will "silently disagree" with his decisions. But, Buffett acknowledges in tiny print, "Usually he's right."
In that letter, a table headlined "Portrait of a Disciplined Investor" details how Geico's portfolio suffered annual losses only three times from 1980 to 2004 and beat the benchmark S&P 500 stock index 18 times. Simpson's average annual gain over that period: 20.3 percent vs the S&P's 13.5 percent.