Bill Miller, the venerable manager of the Legg Mason Value Trust, has said his portfolio may underperform the Standard & Poor's 500 index for the first time in 13 years, but as the end of the year approaches, he isn't going down without a fight, The New York Times reports.

Miller recently braced shareholders for the possibility that their portolio may lose the distinction of trouncing the S&P 500 on a more consistent basis than almost any other registered long-only strategy. But now it seems he may achieve a 14th victory against his benchmark nemesis.

Miller is staging a last-minute comeback against the index and erased the 4.4 percentage point deficit that separated his $11.7 billion portfolio and the index back in August. Now he maintains a comfortable 1.44 percentage point lead.

Miller turned the tables by making aggressive bets in September on Nextel Communications, which now occupies 7.1% of his portfolio. The call paid off handsomely last week when Sprint revealed plans to acquire Nextel for $35 billion and its shraes rose to $30 from $21 since August.

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