1. How to use GuruFocus - Tutorials
  2. What Is in the GuruFocus Premium Membership?
  3. A DIY Guide on How to Invest Using Guru Strategies

Which Gurus Had Positive Returns From 2008 to 2010?

A study that tells us who are better investors among our Gurus.

February 24, 2011

The financial crisis in 2008 was disastrous to the portfolio of a lot of investors. Then the market collapse created opportunities that haven’t been in decades. Two years later, the market is back to almost where it was in Jan. 2008. After the roller coaster riding, the market is getting close to one full cycle. This cycle serves as a perfect test for soundness of investing strategies. With that in mind, we want to check which Gurus had positive returns from 2008 to 2010, and had the least risk in their investing.

The financial crisis of 2008 has been called the “Black Swan” event. Investing strategies that were thought to be solid failed to pass the test of the crisis. The quick recovery in 2009 and 2010 was a surprise to many investors, too. True investors can overcome the fear and seize the opportunities.

This is the investment returns of the Gurus we track, including both Hedge Fund Gurus and Mutual Fund Gurus. In the table for the type of the gurus, H stands for Hedge Fund Gurus, M stands for Mutual Fund Gurus. Model stands for Guru Focus model portfolios.

Hedge Fund Gurus Portfolio/Fund 2008 Gain (%) 2009 Gain (%) 2010 Gain (%) 3-Year Gain (%) Type
David Tepper Appaloosa Investment LP I -26.72 132.72 22 108.1 H
John Paulson Advantage Fund 24.1 13.75 11 56.7 H
Donald Yacktman The Yacktman Fund -26.05 59.31 12.64 32.7 M
David Einhorn Greenlight Re -17.6 32.1 15.9 26.2 H
Bruce Berkowitz Fairholme Fund -29.7 39.01 25.5 22.6 M
Daniel Loeb Master Fund -38 38.5 41.5 21.5 H
Chuck Royce Premier Fund (RYPRX) -28.3 33.3 26.46 20.9 M
Steven Cohen SAC Capital International Fund -19 28.39 15 19.6 H
Paul Tudor Jones BVI Global fund -4.9 16.51 7.5 19.1 H
Louis Moore Bacon Moore Global -4.3 20.6 3 18.9 H
Diamond Hill Capital Small Cap Fund -25.99 28.92 22.99 17.3 M
Steven Romick FPA Crescent Fund -20.6 28.4 12 14.2 M
RS Investment Management RS Partners Fund -38.62 43.67 27.96 12.8 M
Arnold Schneider Schneider Small Cap Value Fund -45 54.04 32.2 12.0 M
Westport Asset Management Westport Fund -30.28 32.26 20.36 11.0 M
Most Broadly Held Portfolio -29.6 40.3 11.3 9.9 Model
Bill Nygren Oakmark Fund -32.61 44.77 12.18 9.4 M
Francis Chou CHOU ASSOCIATES FUND -29.3 29.7 19.21 9.3 M
Most Weighted Portfolio -34 39.9 16.7 7.8 Model
Robert Rodriguez FPA Capital Fund -34.79 40.19 17.72 7.6 M
Tweedy Browne Tweedy Browne Value Fund -24 27.6 10.51 7.2 M
John Rogers Ariel Fund -48.25 63.42 25.97 6.5 M
Jean-Marie Eveillard First Eagle Fund of America -30.74 26.13 21.3 6.0 M
Larry Robbins Glenview Capital -50 82.7 15.3 5.3 H
James Barrow Vanguard Selected Value Fund -35.49 36.26 19.44 5.0 M
Richard Perry Perry Capital -27 25.2 14.6 4.7 H
Edward Owens Vanguard Healthcare Fund -18.45 20.96 6.16 4.7 M
Wallace Weitz Weitz Partners Fund -32 27.6 19.9 4.0 M
Jeff Auxier Auxier Focus Fund -24.52 24.76 10.1 3.7 M
Bill Frels Mairs & Power Growth Fund -28.51 22.52 17.4 2.8 M
PRIMECAP Management Vanguard Primcap Fund -32.41 34.45 12.89 2.6 M
Manning & Napier Advisors, Inc Equity Series (EXEYX) -36.32 39.58 13.86 1.2 H
Mario Gabelli Asset Fund Class AAA -37.2 30.54 23.07 0.9 M
Ruane Cunniff Sequoia Fund -27.03 15.38 19.5 0.6 M
David Winters Wintergreen Fund -39.05 32.78 21.09 -2.0 M
Richard Aster Jr Meridian Value Fund -34.73 21.4 18.23 -6.3 M
Chuck Akre Akre Capital Private Asset Man -42.92 37.54 18.5 -7.0 M
Brian Rogers T. Rowe Price Equity Income Fu -35.75 25.62 15.15 -7.1 M
Arnold Van Den Berg CM Value I Composite -33.54 24.15 12.06 -7.5 M
David Williams Columbia Value and Restructuri -47.4 46.9 19.42 -7.7 M
John Hussman Hussman Strategic Growth Fund -9.02 4.63 -3.62 -8.3 M
S&P 500 Index -37 26.5 15.1 -8.3 M
John Keeley Small Cap Value Fund -40.18 21.67 25.98 -8.3 M
Mark Hillman Focused Advantage Equity Compo -43.75 42.45 14.18 -8.5 M
John Buckingham Al Frank Fund -43.6 35.02 18.61 -9.7 M
Richard Snow All Cap Equity Composite -44.25 41.2 14.45 -9.9 M
Ron Baron Baron Partners Fund -46.67 28.2 31.52 -10.1 M
Martin Whitman Third Avenue Value Fund -45.6 44.5 13.9 -10.5 M
Third Avenue Management Third Avenue Value Fund -45.6 44.5 13.9 -10.5 M
Mason Hawkins Longleaf Partners Fund -50.6 53.6 17.89 -10.5 M
Robert Olstein Olstein All Cap Value Fund -43.8 37.01 16.17 -10.5 M
Kenneth Fisher Purisima Total Return (PURIX) -42.95 36.18 14.74 -10.9 M
Jeremy Grantham GMO US Intrin.Val. III (GMVUX) -33.8 20.5 11.59 -11.0 M
NWQ Managers Nuveen Multi-Manager Large-Cap -36.16 22.39 11.11 -13.2 M
Sarah Ketterer International Value Fund -41.95 32.01 11.98 -14.2 M
Consensus Picks Portfolio -45.4 33.1 17.7 -14.5 Model
HOTCHKIS & WILEY Large Cap Value Fund -47 34.32 19.85 -14.7 M
Dodge & Cox Dodge & Cox Stock FUND -43.41 31.27 13.48 -15.7 M
Chris Davis Davis Financial Fund -45.62 39.11 11.25 -15.8 M
Ronald Muhlenkamp Muhlenkamp Fund -40.39 31.49 6.14 -16.8 M
Guru Bargains Portfolio -48.8 34.6 16.6 -19.6 Model
Charles Brandes U. S. Value Equity -55.44 34.98 15.95 -30.3 M
Ken Heebner CGM Focus Fund -48.2 10.5 16.94 -33.1 M
Murray Stahl Horizon Asset - Core Value -56.5 28.5 12.9 -36.9 M

Here are some observations. Among all Gurus, hedge fund giant David Tepper had the highest return. His hedge fund Appaloosa Investment LP I had the total return of 108%, more than doubled the money. His fund lost 26% in 2008, which is lower than the market loss by more than 10%.

As a benchmark, the three-year cumulative return of S&P500 is -8.3%. Any number above -8.3% is outperforming.

The second best return is also from hedge fund world, John Paulson. The portfolio we track here is Paulson’s Advantage Fund. The fund had three years of double digit gains and produced a cumulative return of 56%. Paulson’s other funds may have better returns over the past three years.

Among all mutual fund gurus, Donald Yacktman had the highest return. His three year cumulative return was 32%. Donald Yacktman had a smaller loss in 2008, but he sees the opportunity in the market, and quickly bought into beaten down small caps and made an impressive gain of almost 60%. He underperformed slightly in 2010. But if an investor can outperform by double digits in an more reasonably valued market, who cares if he underperforms by 2-3% in an overvalued market? Danald Yacktman’s return is 6% better than the next mutual fund Guru, Fairholme’s Bruce Berkowitz.

Hedge fund manager David Einhorn had a loss of 20% less than the market in 2008. His three-year cumulative return is among the best in the Gurus. His overall portfolio risk is small, as we can see from his relatively stable performance.

Bill Nygren’s Oakmark Fund lost 32% in 2008, thanks to his holdings in Washington Mutual. But his three-year return is 9.4%. It is better than the market by almost 18%.

John Hussman had a much smaller loss in 2008, but he missed the opportunities in the next two years. His 3-year performance is about even with the market.

Ken Heebner was the hottest mutual fund manager on the earth in 2008, after gaining 80% in 2007. Money poured in his fund at exactly the wrong time. He lost almost 50% in 2008. Missed opportunities in 2009. His fund is still one-third below where it was in Jan. 2008. He must be losing a lot of clients. But who knows, maybe now is the best time to invest in his fund.

Two out of our model portfolio of Guru Strategies did well in the three years: Most Broadly Held Portfolio and Most Weighted Portfolio, gained 9.9% and 7.8% respectively, without counting dividends. Consensus Picks Portfolio and Guru Bargains Portfolio did poorly as they had high losses in 2008. Most Broadly Held Portfolio and Most Weighted Portfolio invest mostly in large cap stocks. The portfolios are less risky.

After the Guru Strategies, we also developed Model Portfolios of Value Strategies. Top 25 Undervalued Predictable Companies and Buffett-Munger Screener top 25. They outperformed the market by wide margins in both 2009 and 2010. The numbers are not available for 2008.

As always, we at GuruFocus are trying hard to find out what is working for long term value investors. We take this opportunity to invite you for a 7-day Free Trial of our Premium Membership if you have not joined. Take advantage of Gurus’ research by upgrading your membership.

About the author:

Charlie Tian, Ph.D. - Founder of GuruFocus. You can now order his book Invest Like a Guru on Amazon.

Rating: 2.9/5 (45 votes)


Paulwitt - 6 years ago    Report SPAM
The reason to buy the XLF financial etf: David Tepper and John Paulson. The top two performers still have their heaviest weightings in financials. With the XLF at 16.59, off of its 2007 peak of 37.90, there still might be value there.

Disclosure: I am long financials.

Halis - 6 years ago    Report SPAM
Michel.dechesne - 6 years ago    Report SPAM
Why am I missing Ackman, Cumming, Klarman, WEB?
Gurufocus premium member - 6 years ago
We don't have the numbers fro Cumming, and WEB yet for 2010. We don't have numbers for Klarman and Ackman.
Michel.dechesne - 6 years ago    Report SPAM
But I miss Dell, Price, Pabrai and Gayner too. Then what's the value of the comparision?
Gurufocus premium member - 6 years ago
Well, we try our best to get as much data as possible. But for some it has delays, others just impossible sometimes.
Yswolinsky - 6 years ago    Report SPAM
Wow I would be #3 or 4 on this list!
Halis - 6 years ago    Report SPAM
Tepper slaughtered me but I would be #2, I'm not even kidding.
Gurufocus premium member - 6 years ago
Congratulations to everyone!

Please share your numbers and how you did it.



Anthony DuBon
Anthony DuBon - 6 years ago    Report SPAM
I have no argument at all with the discussion of the gurus and the fact that it's possible to consistently beat the market based upon smart people. What I wonder is whether that misses something. The fund manager is one part of an organization that makes decisions continually. The organization is the investment decision-making "machine" that delivers performance - good or bad. I am a partner in a firm that identifies those funds that persistently outperform the funds universe and the S&P 500. We identify funds that have delivered superior performance in both risk (low) and return (high) over time. The fund manager is a major contributor in the organization that produces these results, but not the only contributor. When I was a part of a major funds firm, I participated in revamping a funds management investment decision-making process. As a unit this change resulted in a jump from the fund group beating 45% of competitors funds to beating 85%. This experience made me a believer in the power of investment decision-making process that includes traders, analysts, portfolio managers, and systems support.

Paulwitt - 6 years ago    Report SPAM
From the 2007 highs I went down 58%. From the March 2009 lows I have a 100% return. I am still down 16% from 2007.

I will report more on January 21, 2012 when my leaps expire!

Superguru - 6 years ago    Report SPAM
I would be number 3 on this list.
Johnexo12 - 6 years ago    Report SPAM
Mutual funds are like professional money managers, however a key factor in their favor is that they are more regulated and hence offer investors the ability to analyze and evaluate their track record.

Investing in mutual funds
Jhlending - 6 years ago    Report SPAM

Would you mind disclosing your LEAPS picks for a new guy starting options??

Paulwitt - 6 years ago    Report SPAM

All of my LEAPS are in the financial sector - but I don't want to get specific.

Frank Lind
Frank Lind - 6 years ago    Report SPAM
I would be number two on this list if I include YTD 2011 performance, which is 43%.

What is Tepper's performance YTD? I would be interested to know if I am ahead of him right now.

Assuming 100 dollars invested, I now have 193 dollars. - 93% up

If I do not include YTD 2011, my performance from 2008 to 2010 is positive 35%, which puts me at number 3.

IMO, the best strategy for small investors is to find high-quality nano and micro cap companies and take concentrated positions. The emphasis being on a moat and good/great prospects with the company not yet discovered by Wall Street.

Butle49056 - 2 years ago    Report SPAM

Some of these gurus portfolios do not tell you anything. They contain as many stocks as the S&P 500 and are just a bunch of good US companies. It is like they are just matching some index like S&P 500. The average investor does not have enough money to be able to buy up all the S&P 500 stocks. So from many of the gurus portfolios that have so many stocks it is impossible to duplicate their portfolio. I much rather rely of the DCF to see if a stocks price is below its fair value among other fundamentals.

Please leave your comment:

Performances of the stocks mentioned by gurufocus

User Generated Screeners

aroblessAJR - PIEC (Asia)
aroblessAJR - PIEC (INDIA)
aroblessAJR - PIEC (HSI)
aroblessAJR - PIEC (TSX)
aroblessAJR - PIEC (CHINA)
DBrizanrota16Jan2018 1236a
DBrizanrota16Jan2018 1220a
DBrizanrota16Jan2018 1208a
kelly66Dividend Evaluation
Get WordPress Plugins for easy affiliate links on Stock Tickers and Guru Names | Earn affiliate commissions by embedding GuruFocus Charts
GuruFocus Affiliate Program: Earn up to $400 per referral. ( Learn More)

GF Chat