In a totally platonic way, it is hard for me not to love Bill Miller -- "admire" simply isn't a strong enough word.

Perhaps more than any other investor over the past decade, the famed Legg Mason (NYSE:LM) money manager has helped discredit the efficient market hypothesis and carry the banner for active fund management.

At the moment, we have nearly 22,000 players in our Motley Fool CAPS community, all with a single goal: Beat the S&P 500. Certainly, there are a fair number of players who have accomplished that lofty goal over the past year or so, but Miller's Legg Mason Value Trust (LMVTX) has jumped over that hurdle for more than 20 years now -- with plenty of room to spare.

Yes, I know -- his remarkable streak came to an end in 2006. However, it was never about the streak. Miller has lagged the index during a number of 12-month periods over that span, just never a January-December calendar year -- until now.

However, does a baseball team have to outscore its opponent for nine consecutive innings to win a ball game? Of course not. The occasional error is to be expected -- it's the final tally at the end that matters.

On that front, Miller's poor showing last year shouldn't worry his devoted fans, who are still enjoying a comfortable lead on the competition.

Annualized Since Inception 04/82

Growth of $10,000 since Inception




S&P 500



In a world where a long-term differential of 100 basis points can mean the difference between good and great, Miller has been extraordinary. Over the past 25 years, his fund has topped the S&P by more than two percentage points annually, enough to give shareholders an extra $156,000 -- net of expenses.

I would say that's enough for a Valentine's Day card.

What's sending Fools' hearts aflutter? Go back to our intro page to see what else we have a crush on.

Bill Miller's market-thumping performance puts him in elite company -- but he does have company, and Motley Fool Champion Funds has the guest list. Join us free for the next 30 days, and show your portfolio how much you care.

Fool contributor Nathan Slaughter is a sucker for heart-shaped boxes of candy. He owns shares of Legg Mason, which is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. The Fool's disclosure policy choo-choo-chooses you.