A Weitz Fund That Wins in Downturns
But the Weitz funds are only for patient shareholders. Diehard value investors, the Weitz managers take stocks that have delivered disappointing earnings or fallen out of favor. As a result, the funds sometimes trail the markets for long periods. In 2008, both Weitz funds lagged most of their peers.
For many investors, the best choice may be one of the company's younger funds, Weitz Partners III Opportunity (WPOIX). Partners III outdid most peers in 2008. During the past five years, the fund topped Weitz Partners Value and Weitz Value by 3 percentage points annually.
Partners III has gained an edge by sometimes selling short, a strategy that the other Weitz funds don't use. When markets look rich, the fund shorts ETFs. During the turmoil of the fourth quarter of 2008, the fund had 23% of assets in short positions, including ETFs that track real estate and small-cap stocks. Short holdings can record gains when markets fall, and the shorts helped Partners III outdo Weitz Value by 3 percentage points for the quarter.