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Raymond DeVoe Jr., 85; coined ‘dead cat bounce’ phrase

Mr. DeVoe’s reports tracked small expenses, which can become like piranha bites.Bloomberg News

NEW YORK — Raymond F. DeVoe Jr. — who wrote the DeVoe Report, a financial newsletter, for 35 years — has died .

He died at age 85 on Sept. 27 at a hospital in Manhattan, his daughter-in-law, Jeanne Jackson DeVoe, said Monday. The cause was complications of cancer. He lived in Sea Girt, N.J.

In a Wall Street career dating to 1955, Mr. DeVoe was a voice for investors looking for long-term stakes in undervalued companies. He said in a 2011 interview with Bloomberg News that David Dodd, coauthor with Benjamin Graham of the value-investing classic ‘‘Securities Analysis’’ (1934), ‘‘was my finance professor and guidance counselor’’ at Columbia University’s business school.

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One of his journalistic contributions was a warning to beware of the ‘‘dead cat bounce,’’ a brief upward move by a stock or other investment that has otherwise dropped steadily. A dead cat thrown off a tall building might bounce slightly when it hits the sidewalk, he said, but it is ‘‘still a dead cat.’’

In a July 2000 interview with Newsday, Mr. DeVoe expressed concerns about the surge in Internet-related stocks.

‘‘This is the most dangerous market I’ve ever seen in the 45 years I’ve been on Wall Street,’’ he said when what became known as the dot-com bubble was losing air. ‘‘You could say this stock market is a type of legal Ponzi scheme, where the money keeps coming in, and as long as it does and takes care of the people exiting the market, the market can stay high almost indefinitely. Valuations have been sort of dismissed.’’

Mr. DeVoe, who worked in New York, produced his report as an analyst for Legg Mason Wood Walker Inc. for 22 years, then independently. One of its features was the Trivia Index, which tracked the price of small expenses like haircuts or pizza slices, which he likened to piranha bites on household income.

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Financial columnist Jane Bryant Quinn, in 1997, called Mr. DeVoe’s newsletter ‘‘witty and popular.’’ Warren Buffett, in his 2011 letter to shareholders, cited Mr. DeVoe in explaining why Berkshire Hathaway prefers to keep its cash in US Treasuries rather than other short-term securities, stating: ‘‘We agree with investment writer Ray DeVoe’s observation, ‘More money has been lost reaching for yield than at the point of a gun.’ ’’

Raymond Forsyth DeVoe Jr. was born in 1929 and was raised in New York City, where 13 generations of DeVoes had lived. He was the oldest son of Raymond F. DeVoe and the former Madeleine Fagan. His father founded the Wall Street stock brokerage DeVoe, Dyke & Sperry and served as financial vice president of Continental Can Co., according to his 1977 obituary in the Times.

Mr. DeVoe graduated from Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., in 1950, then served more than three years in the US Navy during the Korean War, posted in Europe aboard the USS Kula Gulf, an escort carrier.

He began his analyst career in the stock department of Spencer Trask & Co., where he wrote a market bulletin, a weekly research note, and a quarterly review. He began writing the DeVoe Report in 1979 for Bruns Nordeman Rea & Co., moving two years later to Legg Mason’s retail brokerage subsidiary. He was at Baltimore-based Legg Mason Inc. for 22 years, until 2001.

Since 2001, he independently provided his four-page newsletter to subscribers, including more than 100 Wall Street firms, his daughter-in-law said, adding that he was working on a book titled, ‘‘Is There Intelligent Life on Wall Street?’’

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His first wife, the former Anne Fosbroke, died in 1985. He leaves their two children, Raymond F. DeVoe III, known as Syth, and Diana DeVoe Mainzer. He also leaves his second wife, the former Maureen McIsaac, and two grandchildren.