Bill Miller’s announcement earlier this month that he plans to step down from managing Legg Mason Capital Management Value Trust as well as from his role as chief investment officer of Legg Mason Capital Management at the end of April 2012 could heighten risks for fund investors, S&P Capital IQ said in a report.
Miller did say he plans to remain with the firm, S&P Capital IQ mutual fund analyst Todd Rosenbluth noted in the report. However, “a new leader could shift the investment strategy in a way that may not fit with investors’ expectations,” according to Rosenbluth. Miller’s involvement as manager or co-manager of the fund since 1982 has allowed investors “to gain comfort in the fund’s stock selection approach,” Rosenbluth said.
Despite the fund’s rocky performance over the past several years -- with the exception of 2009, when the fund’s 41% total return outpaced its peer group, the fund has “significantly lagged” its large-cap brethren since 2006, according to the report -- there are some undervalued stocks in the LMVTX portfolio, Rosenbluth said.
The most recently reported top-10 holdings included Microsoft, PepsiCo and Wells Fargo, all of which have higher-than-average S&P quality rankings. Information technology assets comprised 23% of the fund’s holdings and 21% of the holdings were in financial stocks. The fund’s turnover rate was “relatively modest” at 34%, according to Rosenbluth. “Investors will not get a sense if these traits will change with a new lead manager until later in 2012,” he said.