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Fernandez Leaves Fairholme

Embattled fund loses comanager.

Harry Milling, 10/19/2011

Fairholme Capital Management said Charlie Fernandez, the comanager on its flagship Fairholme FAIRX fund, has left the firm. The asset manager made its announcement in regulatory filings today. Fernandez was also a listed comanager on Fairholme Focused Income FOCIX and Fairholme Allocation FAAFX. That leaves Bruce Berkowitz, the firm's founder, as sole manager of all three funds.

The Fairholme fund's $8.9 billion in assets are less than half of what they were last year amid poor performance and billions in redemptions. The fund's years of stellar performance came to a halt this year amid massive bets on financials, like American International Group AIG and Bank of America BAC, which have been punished by investors. The fund's 26% loss so far in 2011 gives it a year-to-date return that is worse than almost every fund in the large-value category.

It is not clear yet why Fernandez is no longer with the firm. He joined the Fairholme fund as comanager in 2008, and Berkowitz said at the time that he would use Fernandez's expertise in corporate restructurings to research the contrarian and deep-value bets for which Berkowitz has become known.

Harry Milling is a mutual fund analyst with Morningstar.com. He welcomes e-mail but cannot meet requests for customized portfolio advice.

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