Growing up in Florida, Bill Miller took an early interest in the market. As a high-schooler in the late 1960s, he says he invested the money he earned umpiring baseball games in stocks like RCA, making enough to buy a broken-down Ford. He studied philosophy in graduate school, but left to join a Pennsylvania manufacturing company where he eventually oversaw its investments.
By the early 1980s, Mr. Miller’s then-wife worked at Legg Mason. Through her, Mr. Miller met the brokerage’s founder, Raymond “Chip” Mason. Mr. Mason said he was thinking of starting some mutual funds. Mr. Miller jumped. He joined Legg Mason in 1981. As his winning streak grew, Mr. Miller’s name was often preceded in press reports with the word “legendary.” He was mentioned alongside the likes of Fidelity’s Mr. Lynch. Legg Mason, meanwhile, grew from a regional brokerage house into one of the planet’s largest money managers.
In 1999, he cut an unusually lucrative deal with Legg Mason to take the reins of Opportunity Trust, a new fund. The fund’s management fees went to an entity half-owned by Mr. Miller. From 2005 through 2007, Opportunity Trust paid the entity $137 million.
Bill Miller currently manages the Legg Mason Capital Management Opportunity Trust. Mr Biller used to manage the the Legg Mason Value Trust, the flagship fund of the firm, but during 2008 and the financial panic, he seemingly lost his magic touch. His fund plunged 55 percent and he was out. Mr. Miller of Legg Mason, became a mutual fund legend by beating the S.& P. 500 for 15 consecutive years, from 1991 to 2005. Mr. Miller’s fund gained over 40 percent in 2012, and was the top-performing mutual fund in Morningstar’s database, Mr. Miller made big bets on the battered and out-of-favor homebuilding and financial sectors, the kind of contrarian strategy that served him well for so many years. Major holdings like Pulte Homes (which gained 160 percent over the past year) and Bank of America (which nearly doubled) were some his best-performing stocks.