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Mar 13 2023

In Memoriam Steve Leuthold

  • Mar 13, 2023

Steve Leuthold retired over a decade ago, leaving his eponymic firm’s ongoing reputation in the hands of his understudies. He recognized the importance of mentorship, and, throughout his career, he made a great effort to share his knowledge and techniques to build a strong team that would mirror his work ethic and ideology (and, as he would tease, ensure that his name didn’t become mud in his absence!). Since his retirement, Steve’s unending drive led him to satisfy other life ambitions and we’ve been proud to carry on his career legacy.

Today we say adios to our boss, friend, mentor, and April Fool’s Day enthusiast. Steve Leuthold passed away peacefully at his home in Carlsbad, CA, on March 7, 2023. He was 85 years old.

Steve became a nationally respected investment strategist, known for his contrarian nature and unpretentious style, which was poles apart from his manicured peers on Wall Street who donned three-piece suits and flashy accessories. He explored a variety of prospects before carving out his niche on (off) Wall Street. Among those pursuits, Steve was a fry cook, law student, history major, Cargill commodities-trader trainee, bar- and dance-club proprietor, and singer/songwriter/guitar player in the rockabilly band Steve Carl & The Jags. Check out this relic:

Steve was born October 23, 1937, in Albert Lea, Minnesota, to Mabel and Carlos Leuthold. After graduating from High School he attended the University of Minnesota and joined the Army National Guard to help pay tuition. While in the Guard, his captain interested him in the investment business and Steve’s commodities-trading knowledge from Cargill landed him a desk job overseeing the captain’s portfolio of investments. That experience later led to an analyst position at Paine Webber.

After Paine Webber, Steve was as an investment strategist with Piper, Jaffray, and Hopwood, and a portfolio manager at Criterion Investment Management. Steve founded The Leuthold Group in 1981. He aspired to provide institutional investment firms with inventive and thought-provoking research, completely independent of traditional Wall Street sources, which were often subjective based on their company’s official position.

The Leuthold Group expanded into investment management for corporate pension plans, and, as the industry evolved, the firm added SMAs, mutual funds, and an ETF. Considered an industry expert, Steve was frequently cited in leading trade journals, made appearances on broadcast-media financial programs, and often spoke at meetings and investment conferences around the country. He served as a contributing editor for other financial journals, authored articles for major industry publications, and conducted seminars for university curriculums. Championed by industry peers, Steve is credited with devising numerous ground-breaking concepts that play an ongoing role in modern market analysis.

Steve authored The Myths of Inflation and Investing, published in 1980 by Crain Books. Many investment professionals now regard it as a landmark work. An earlier manuscript, Index Funds, the Risks and Pitfalls, was self-published in 1977. He authored sections in both The Stock Market and Inflation and The Handbook of Fixed Income Securities, published by Dow Jones Irwin. In 2015, Steve was inducted into the Twin Cities Business Hall of Fame for his lifetime of achievement.

After establishing his career, Steve continued to dabble in other side-endeavors, including being a one-time concert promoter of “The Show” at Michigan’s Pontiac Stadium during the Bicentennial celebration.

Steve was a development partner and first resident of Itasca Lofts in Minneapolis, and he was an investor and founding board member of Minnesota Brewing Company—brewer of Pig’s Eye Beer, named after Pierre “Pig’s Eye” Parrant, a one-eyed bootlegger credited as the first settler in St. Paul. Steve enjoyed pointing out that he had a likeness to the notorious character.

(Echoing their dad’s flair for a good wisecrack, his children point out that most of those ventures didn’t make good business sense—Steve just could never pass up anything that sounded like fun!)

Known for his often contrarian views, Sven/Ole/Lena jokes, and twinkling blue eyes, Steve delighted in running against the grain—away from the herd. He spent over thirty summers living on Bailey Island, Maine, his favorite place in the world. He loved being on the Maine coast growing potatoes and befriending the local lobstermen. Typical of his unconventional nature, instead of going south for the winter, he came back to Minneapolis.

Steve lived life to the fullest, was mischievous, and reveled in pulling pranks and shenanigans both at work and outside of work. He was quick to laugh and find humor; people were naturally drawn to his charisma and he made many lasting and loyal friends. He adored his children and grandchildren and treasured their time together.

A committed philanthropist, Steve often gave anonymously and lived modestly. He loved music, beer, and entertaining friends and strangers, alike. Steve was brilliant, yet humble; he will be greatly missed. Nevertheless, it is his wish that we celebrate, rather than mourn his passing. Instead of sadness, he expects boisterous merriment as we revisit the endless anecdotes that defined the incomparable persona of Steve Leuthold. Cheers!

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