Nothing tests the mettle of a value investor like watching a large portfolio holding slowly and steadily melt down.
Yet that’s exactly what happened last spring to Mason Hawkins and his partner, Staley Cates, the veteran investment officers of Memphis‘ Southeastern Asset Management.
Chesapeake Energy, one of the biggest positions in their flagship mutual fund, Longleaf Partners, was hit by a barrage of negative publicity as its brash billionaire chief executive, Aubrey McClendon, came under fire for alleged self-dealing.
This, after Hawkins and Cates had long defended McClendon and his aggressive spending on acquisitions. Short-sellers swarmed Chesapeake’s shares, which sank as much as 47% in less than two months.