Stocktake: Bill Miller – from hero to zero and back again

Billionaire fund manager invested in Amazon and bitcoin

Bill Miller’s Amazon stake made up 83% of his personal portfolio last year. Photograph: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

Bill Miller’s Amazon stake made up 83% of his personal portfolio last year. Photograph: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

 

Fund manager Bill Miller has gone from hero to zero to hero again.

Widely seen as one of the best fund managers in history after beating the S&P 500 for 15 years in a row, Miller’s reputation fell sharply during the global financial crisis when his massive bets on US banks went bad.

Now he’s back, telling Barron’s last week that he is now a billionaire having made a fortune on Amazon and bitcoin.

It’s always been hard to discern if Miller was skilled or lucky (or unlucky, in 2008). It still is. His Amazon stake made up 83 per cent of his personal portfolio last year. His bitcoin investment, made when it was about $500, is now worth even more than his Amazon holding.

This kind of concentrated investing is risk-taking on a grand scale. If it pays off, you’re a genius; if it goes wrong, you’re a joke. The latest twist in Miller’s tale is yet another reminder of the fine line between skill and luck in investing.

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