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No. 1 Contrarians

When the Wall Street Journal named Legg Mason Capital Management Opportunity the No. 1 fund in its 2012 Winners’ Circle performance ranking of U.S. diversified stock portfolios, it featured the fund managers in the story: two Washington and Lee alumni. Bill Miller, of the Class of 1972, is the fund manager, and Samantha McLemore, of the Class of 2002, is the assistant manager.

According to the Journal, Legg Mason Capital Management Opportunity “more than doubled the return of the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index in 2012, gaining 40.7%.” That performance came after a year when the fund lost more than 30 percent.

Noting at the outset that being “contrarian” had paid off for the fund managers, the Journal wrote: “Mr. Miller and Ms. McLemore prefer to ignore the market’s mood, or to run counter to it.”

Bill had previously been named “fund manager of the decade” by Morningstar, a fund-industry research service, for his performance in the 1990s. Under his management, Legg Mason Value Trust outperformed the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index for 15 consecutive years, from 1991 to 2005, one of the longest winning streaks in mutual fund history.

Samantha joined Legg Mason Capital Management in 2002 as an analyst and was named assistant portfolio manager of the Legg Mason Capital Management Opportunity Trust in 2008. She serves as portfolio manager on the LMCM Opportunity Fund, which allows investors access to the investment process and portfolio implemented by the LMCM Opportunity Trust.

Bill was the director of research for Legg Mason from October 1981 through June 1985, and assumed overall responsibility for its equity funds management division in 1990. Prior to joining Legg Mason in 1981, he served as treasurer of the J.E. Baker Co., a major manufacturer of products for the steel and cement industries.

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