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Berkowitz Releases Semi-Annual Report, Fairholme Fund Now 18% in AIG

Year to Date Performance The Fairholme Fund lost 9.42% during the first six months of 2011 while the S&P 500 Index ("S&P 500") gained 6.02%. Since inception, the Fairholme Fund increased by 301.18%, which compares favorably to the S&P 500's gain of 11.34%. A $1 million investment in the Fairholme Fund when it started on December 29, 1999 would be worth $4,011,839 at June 30, 2011 compared to $1,113,381 for a like investment in the S&P 500. The Income Fund earned 3.49% during the first six months of 2011 while the Barclays Capital U.S. Aggregate Bond Index ("Barclays Bond Index") earned 2.72%. Since inception, the Income Fund increased by 15.04%, which compares favorably to the Barclays Bond Index gain of 9.44%. The Allocation Fund declined 9.30% in its first six months of life in comparison to the aforementioned benchmarks.

Manager Commentary

The Fairholme Fund's outperformance over the past decade was based on seeking undervalued securities of companies perceived to be in extremis. Our inclination remains to run from the popular and embrace the hated where prices tend to reflect such mistrust. Often, we are ahead of the crowd, too early, and appear wrong for a time. However, performance awards over the years show that we eventually get it right by seeing beyond temporary conditions and by avoiding diversification that leads to mediocrity. Our history is to buy in bulk during blowout sales with the knowledge that market price volatility only measures short-term perception of long-term risk.

When prices fall off the proverbial cliff investors run fearing that the market is omnipotent. But, such plummets do not always mean death and destruction. This was the case in the early 1990's, when studied banks and financial guarantors stabilized around five times normal earnings before their rise to all-time highs.

Today, we believe to be at a similar tipping point for financials with enormous cash flows and diminishing restructuring expenses for the illogical extremes of 2006/2007. Their pre-provision, pre-tax earnings power is compelling. A not unreasonable 1% return on Citi's assets or 10% return on equity would yield $6 per share. A 1% ROA or 10% ROE for BofA would yield over $2 per share.

AIG common stock is similarly cheap, due mostly to market pressures caused by the U.S. Treasury's desire to sell its 77% ownership. When a recovering icon trades at half of our understanding of intrinsic value for a reason that has nothing to do with its prospects, we swing big.

Tremendous opportunities also exist in all parts of MBIA's capital structure based on CEO Jay Brown's past turnaround successes, the resumption of new business, run-off earnings, and expected litigation proceeds.

Common to all the aforementioned survivors of the Great Recession are misunderstood net operating losses that will shelter hundreds of billions of future profits from taxes over the years to come.

Holdings in predominant life insurers AIA and China Pacific Insurance Company are the result of 30 years studying successful underwriters and the insurance needs of the middle class. Mark Tucker at AIA and Chairman Gao at CPIC maintain strong balance sheets, know their risks, insist on profitable underwriting, and have a tsunami of demand at their backs in Asia.

St. Joe (JOE) deserves mention given its attention by the press. While our active role at JOE is a first for Fairholme and unusual for mutual funds, our past clearly shows that we ignore what the crowd believes proper and decide for ourselves what is in the best interest of shareholders. We simply view JOE as an investment manager with permanent capital and understand how such companies are capable of above-average returns and how they can complement our other portfolio holdings. The same is true of Sears (SHLD).

U.S. consumer credit ratings are the highest in 4 years, consumer loan delinquencies are down significantly from the peak, and family debt payments as a percent of income are the lowest since 1994. Confidence is growing, albeit in fits and starts, and real estate activities appear to be on the rise. Halfway around the world are tides of capitalism maybe not seen in the U.S. since after World War II. All in all, the trends are positive for our companies and their customers.

Charlie Fernandez and I continue to believe that the U.S. business cycle has not been repealed and that, in the words of Yogi Berra, "It's déjà vu all over again."

Top Ten Holdings

American International (NYSE:AIG) 18.2%

Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A) 7.2%

AIA Group 6.7%

Sears Holding Corp (SHLD) 6.4%

Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) 5.7%

Brookfield Asset Management (NYSE:BAM) 5.6%

Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) 5.5%

Citigroup (NYSE:C) 5.5%

Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) 5.3%

Regions Financial (NYSE:RF) 5.3%

Total of Top Ten Holdings 71.2%

Here is the link to the report, a more unpopular list of names you will not find http://www.fairholmefunds.com/pdf/AnnualReport.pdf

About the author:


Rating: 4.3/5 (33 votes)


Yswolinsky - 7 years ago    Report SPAM
Wow this is really all in like in a game of holdem. The outcome will likely decide whether he is the next Bill Miller or Seth Klarman.
Fareastwarriors - 7 years ago    Report SPAM
That is some conviction.

Avishek - 7 years ago    Report SPAM
He will make a killing even if he is right 60% on his portfolio...
Turnkeyusa - 7 years ago    Report SPAM
Eric Schneiderman may have something to say about these bank bets soon enough. Has he considered that risk? In a reregulated world banks' ROA and ROE won't return to pre-crisis levels.
Yswolinsky - 7 years ago    Report SPAM
The more things change the more they stay the same. Look at the housing bubble which took place immediately after tech bubble crash. And now we have another tech bubble only a little later. There will be another financial crisis it could be tomm or in 100 years, but, regular people, investors, politicans and regulators have short memories.

Ppl barely remember BP oil spill at this point
Noblepaladin - 7 years ago    Report SPAM
Berkowitz has been somewhat vocal about AIG and BAC. I believe he said in an interview that he cannot own more BAC because of limits on how much he can buy on a broker/dealer. How do you guys think AIG compares against BAC?

Berkowitz said that AIG is about 1/2 off, and he thinks that BAC can generate $2/share in the long term. I'm bullish on both for the same reasons, but I'm wondering what Berkowitz's allocation would be if he were allowed to buy an unlimited amount of BAC (his BAC allocation hasn't changed even though the stock price has completely crumbled).
Djs344 - 7 years ago    Report SPAM
Everything else aside, according to the report he is down to less than 5 % cash. This would have not included any outflows in June and July which I believe there were some. Unfortunately I think he is going to run out of time to see if his bets would have paid off because he is going to need to start selling stocks to meet his redemptions.

Whether he is right or wrong on BAC / AIG and I do tend to agree with him. I don't think he can keep pace with his redemptions. He is basically out of capital to redeploy if we are headed for a correction.
Fareastwarriors - 7 years ago    Report SPAM

He can count on small guys like me to pump in a few thousand here and there. =)
Superguru - 7 years ago    Report SPAM
Good thing about Bruce is that he is very quick to get out of big positions if he finds better opportunity like he did with PFE. There was a time when all he talked about was Health care and PFE was a big positions and suddenly he was out of it and into financials.

Till he is not wedded to a position that's good even if it is AIG or BAC. If he finds a better opportunity he will sell AIG and buy that even if he does not have enough cash

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