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Eaton Vance stock tops over 25 years
Firm's shares No.1 performer for period ended Dec. 31
By Kathie O'Donnell, MarketWatch
Last Update: 4:58 AM ET Feb. 5, 2005

BOSTON (MarketWatch)
- If Warren Buffett is the Oracle of Omaha, maybe James Hawkes, chairman of mutual fund company Eaton Vance Corp, is the Sage of State Street.

Shares of Boston-based Eaton Vance (EV: news, chart, profile) ranked No.1 among publicly traded U.S. stocks for the 25 years ended Dec. 31, with a 32 percent annualized return. That put the company ahead of both Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A: news, chart, profile) and Wal-Mart Stores (WMT: news, chart, profile) in the rankings, compiled by FactSet Research Systems, a Norwalk, Conn.-based financial data provider.

Hawkes learned of his company's success at a Merrill Lynch conference he attended with Eaton Vance's chief financial officer late last year. They watched a slide presentation by M&T Bank Corp. (MTB: news, chart, profile) -- whose stock ranked 11th-- and saw Eaton Vance topping the list.

"There were big smiles on our faces when we saw that," Hawkes said in an interview. "It was one of those 'Holy Batman!' moments."

After Eaton Vance, the best-performing stocks for the 25-year period in order of returns were Kansas City Southern (KSU: news, chart, profile) , Countrywide Financial Corp. (CFC: news, chart, profile) , Progressive Corp. (PGR: news, chart, profile) , Stryker Corp. (SYK: news, chart, profile) , National Technical Systems (NTSC: news, chart, profile) , Forest Laboratories (FRX: news, chart, profile) , Wal-Mart, State Street Corp. (STT: news, chart, profile) , Mylan Laboratories (MYL: news, chart, profile) , M&T Bank, Leucadia National Corp. (LUK: news, chart, profile) , Allete Inc. (ALE: news, chart, profile) , Dollar General Corp (DG: news, chart, profile) . and Berkshire, according to FactSet Research.

Investors who purchased $10,000 worth of Eaton Vance stock on Dec. 31, 1979 - assuming they reinvested all dividends - saw it grow to $10.6 million 25 years later, according to Eaton Vance's 2004 annual report.

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