Baltimore's second most popular streak continued on Friday.
Bill Miller, manager of the $19.5 billion Legg Mason Value Trust Fund, extended his record of beating the S&P 500 to 15 consecutive years. If it weren't for the 2,632 consecutive game appearances of former Baltimore Orioles infielder Cal Ripken, Miller would be the Charm City's No. 1 iron man.
In the money management industry, however, no one comes a close second. Although the final trading day of 2005 hadn't closed prior to deadline, Miller's fund at press time had a return of 6.02% compared to the S&P's 5.43%, which would lock up yet another year in front of the industry's benchmark.
"He should be in the Hall of Fame of money managers," said Manu Daftary, manager of the Quaker Strategic Growth Fund in Malvern, Pa., and owner of the next-longest streak to Miller. Daftary has beaten the S&P six consecutive times and, as of Friday morning, he was poised to do it a seventh time.
"No one else has been able to do what Miller has done, and that puts him in the league of Peter Lynch and some of the other investing greats," Daftary told The Baltimore Sun.
But, really, how important is the streak?
"You can't put a price on that kind of publicity," said Rachel Barnard, a stock analyst at Chicago-based Morningstar, in a report from The New York Times. "It's huge."
Legg Mason repeatedly touts Miller's achievement in its literature and investors have responded over the years. But this year Legg Mason acquired Citigroup's $400 billion investment division in an asset swap, a deal that would expand the customer reach of Miller's fund even further.
Miller, 55, downplays the importance of the steak. He told the NY Times that January-to-December is the only 12-month period where his fund consistently beats the market, which effectively makes the streak "an accident of the calendar."
John C. "Jack" Bogle, founder of Valley Forge, Pa.-based Vanguard Group, isn't necessarily impressed, either. Bogle told The Sun that he has great respect for Miller's "high character and investment acumen," but would recommend an index fund over Legg Mason Value Trust.
"Chances that he'd do it for another 15 years, I'd say are zero," Bogle said.
At least one element of his streak cannot be argued. According to Morningstar, Miller's fund has delivered average annualized returns of more than 15% over the last 10 years.
The staff of Money Management Executive ("MME") has prepared these capsule summaries based on reports published by the news sources to which they are attributed. Those news sources are not associated with MME, and have not prepared, sponsored, endorsed, or approved these summaries.