Fairholme's Bruce Berkowitz Is Beating Hedge Fund Managers At Their Own Game
Bruce Berkowitz, founder of Miami-based mutual fund Fairholme Capital Management, employs an opportunistic, value-based investment strategy that looks a lot like a hedge fund’s.
By Amy Feldman
Every once in a while, theres a saga on Wall Street that captures everyones attention. The fight over Florida real estate development company St. Joe Co. earlier this year was that kind of saga. On one side was Bruce Berkowitz, founder of Miami-based mutual fund manager Fairholme Capital Management, St. Joes largest shareholder, with a nearly 30 percent stake, who believed that the companys future would be bright once the real estate market recovered and poor management was out of the way. On the other was David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital, a New Yorkbased hedge fund manager who had presciently shorted Lehman Brothers Holdings before it collapsed and was equally outspoken in betting against St. Joe.
In the fall and winter, the two publicly battled under the glare of the media spotlight. Fortune magazine dubbed Berkowitz the megamind of Miami, while the Atlantic, not known for its business coverage, sent a writer to the Florida Panhandle to track down a development at the heart of the Berkowitz-Einhorn showdown. In March, in a battle so short you might have missed it if you blinked, Berkowitz and Fairholme won control of St. Joe, gaining four seats on its board of directors and forcing the departure of its CEO. The mutual fund manager had beaten the hedge fund manager at the game.
St. Joe may not seem like a major prize in the big scheme of things, with a market value of just $2.4 billion, but Berkowitz and Charles Fernandez, his No. 2....