Investor Bill Miller calls this market one of the best buying opportunities of his lifetime

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Bill Miller

Scott Mlyn | CNBC

Investor Bill Miller said during Wednesday’s violent market dive that the current climate is one of the best buying opportunities of his lifetime. 

“I think this is an exceptional buying opportunity,” Miller, chairman and chief investment officer of Miller Value Partners, said on CNBC’s “The Exchange” on Wednesday. “I don’t mean to put all the money in at once but I do think layering it in right now is the way to go.”

As Miller, 70,  was speaking, the stock market had halted trading because the S&P 500 fell more than 7%, triggering the level 1 “circuit breaker.” Equities cratered on Wednesday as fears about the economic downfall from the coronavirus continued to grow. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 2,000 points. 

“There have been four great buying opportunities in my adult lifetime,” he said. “The first was in 1973 and ’74, the second was in 1982, the third was in 1987 and the fourth was in 2008 and 2009. And this is the fifth one.” 

Miller said these historic opportunities were mainly event-driven, like during the war in the Middle East and Vietnam.

 “Those are the sorts of events that you see when markets are making historic lows, the news is just bleak all around,” Miller added. 

Coronavirus news has been dismal as a spike in cases in the U.S. and around the globe caused an unprecedented financial and societal disruption. All three major averages have dipped deep into bear market territory, with industries like the hotel and travel industries nearly shut down, hoping for bailouts from the government. 

“I think as time goes on, unless the news on the pandemic side gets radically worse — I mean radically worse than expectations not just worse because we know it’s going to do that — I would expect that the fear would attenuate,” Miller added. “Just keeping that level of emotion and fear up requires a constant dose of new and really bad news.”

Miller, who beat the market for 15 straight years while working at Legg Mason, came back with a bang in 2019, riding the stock market’s relentless rally to record highs. Miller’s firm posted a return of 119.5% last year net of fees, he told investors in a Jan. 15 letter. Those gains more than made up for the firm’s 33.8% loss in 2018.

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