Bill Miller’s Fund is Top Stock-Picker

The winner of the quarterly Wall Street Journal Winner’s Circle contest—which identifies the U.S.  stock fund with at least $50 million in assets (and a record of more than three years) that posted the best performance in the trailing 12 months—is Baltimore-based Miller Opportunity Trust led by Bill Miller and Samantha McLemore (both formerly of Legg Mason). This according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal.

Miller’s fund returned 48.55% for the 12 months ended June 30th [Note: Index, exchange-traded and leveraged funds are not eligible for the contest.] “Mr. Miller doesn’t shy away from companies with dark clouds hanging over their heads,” according to the article, “having profited from investing in market pariahs in the past.” Such names include Restoration Hardware, Wayfair, and Valeant Pharmaceuticals.

In the case of Restoration Hardware, Ms. McLemore became interested based on her belief that the company (whose stock was beaten down to $24 per share last year) stood to gain from millennial spending habits, and she and Miller visited the company to size things up. The article says, “Now, once again, Mr. Miller’s patient buy-and-hold strategy has paid off for investors, with retailer Restoration Hardware Holdings rebounding by about 110% in the past six months alone.”