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T. Rowe Price manager Milano quits New America Growth Fund

(Reuters) - T. Rowe Price Group lost one of its top stock fund managers on Friday, as Joseph Milano quit to pursue other opportunities.

Milano, who ran the $4 billion New America Growth Fund for the past decade, will be replaced by Dan Martino, manager of the Baltimore firm's Media and Telecommunications Fund and related accounts, spokesman Brian Lewbart said. Milano could not be immediately reached.

Under Milano, the New America fund has been among the better performers in its category, according to data from Lipper, a unit of Thomson Reuters.

The fund gained an average of 9.15 percent a year over the past 10 years through the end of April, better than 62 percent of similar funds. Over the past five years, the fund's average annual return of 6.74 percent beat 79 percent of its peers.

But the fund's performance lagged this year, weighed down by top holding Apple , whose shares have dropped 15 percent in 2013. The fund gained 11.64 percent this year through May 9, trailing 69 percent of similar funds, according to data from Morningstar.

The sudden departure follows T. Rowe's loss of another top performer, former Health Sciences Fund manager Kris Jenner, who quit in February to start his own hedge fund.

The two departures were not related, spokesman Lewbart said. "We have succession plans and a deep bench of analysts and managers that are ready to step in," he added.

(Reporting by Aaron Pressman; editing by Carol Bishopric)

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