Has Miller’s fund outgrown his touch?

Has Miller’s fund outgrown his touch? discusses whether or not Bill Miller can continue to beat the S&P 500 for much longer. Bill Miller is investment manager for Legg Mason Value Trust. I recently purchased shares in CI Value Trust (Value Trust’s Canadian dollar equivalent) and currently it makes up my entire US portfolio.

. . . don’t be surprised if the fund hits head winds. It barely beat the S&P 500 last year, nosing it by less than a percentage point. And Value Trust trailed the S&P 500 for the first quarter, falling slightly while the index gained 4 percent.

Miller himself notes that the 15-year beating-the-S&P record is just “a fortunate accident of the calendar,”:

he added, noting that there would be no 15-year streak if the investment year ended in any month but December; in some years, Value Trust trailed the index in the 12 months ending in January, February and so forth.

The author Jay Hancok argues (briefly) that it would benefit current investors if the fund was closed up to new investors:

Is it time to close Legg Mason’s flagship mutual fund, Value Trust, to new investors? A good argument can be made that the answer, at least for current investors, is yes.

But Legg Mason has no plans of closing it up just yet:

Its money-management team “believes the fund can comfortably manage substantially greater assets than those presently under management,” says Miller in his statement to me. Value Trust’s low turnover will help.

Miller himself pointed out that:

many successful “managed” (non-index) funds are bigger. Fidelity Investments’ Contrafund had $65 billion in assets last month when it announced that it would bar new investors, to focus on working for existing shareholders.

The author argues that “the more S&P 500 stock that Value Trust absorbs, the harder it’s going to be for Value Trust to outperform the S&P 500.” This is less of a problem for Bill Miller, however, who “makes big, bold bets on relatively few stocks. At the end of last year – the most recent information available – just 10 stocks made up 45 percent of Value Trust’s holdings.”

One thought on “Has Miller’s fund outgrown his touch?”

  1. I currently have the CI Value Trust fund in my portfolio and it has been a pretty big stinker for the last 3-4 years. I don’t remember exactly when I bought it but I think it was probably around 2001 or 2002. My overall return on this thing is in the 14% range (that’s not annualized, that’s total return). I understand that a lot of that can be blamed on the weakness of the US dollar but those returns are pretty low in my books…

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