Legendary investor Bill Miller’s hedge fund jumped 120% last year -- and he says it’s because he didn’t stray from his top names.
“In the fourth quarter, we did our favorite thing to do in markets: nothing,” Miller wrote in an investor letter dated Jan. 15. “No new names and no elimination of holdings from the portfolio. This doesn’t happen as often as it probably should.”
The performance stands in contrast to the industry. Hedge funds on average rose 9.2% last year, according to Bloomberg Hedge Fund Indices, while the S&P Index 500 jumped 29% in that period. Miller’s gain marks a turnaround for 2018 when the fund slid about 34% as markets plunged.
The veteran stock-picker’s Miller Value Partners 1 surged 60% in the fourth quarter alone, according to the letter seen by Bloomberg. The fund, which has about $220 million in assets, uses one-to-three times leverage on its investments.
Among the fund’s top contributors to the gains were security system company ADT Inc., Flexion Therapeutics Inc. and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. Other holdings included furniture retailer RH and Amazon.com Inc.
Miller, who focuses on beaten-down securities that trade at a large discount to their intrinsic value, predicts the bull market will continue, though “stocks will not move in a straight line higher.” He declined to comment beyond the letter.
Miller gained fame beating the S&P 500 for 15 straight years when he ran the Legg Mason Value Trust. He stumbled during the financial crisis, losing 55% in 2008 and triggering redemptions. His Miller Opportunity Trust, a mutual fund with $1.7 billion in assets, was up about 34% last year and rose about 19% in the fourth quarter.