Embattled Legg Mason Lends Yahoo! (YHOO) Some Support

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Disgraced stock-picking guru Bill Miller of Legg Mason says he will support Yahoo!’s (YHOO) efforts to stay independent if Microsoft (MSFT) lowers the value of its offer to buy the portal company. Since Miller has lost more money for his investors that the US Treasury keeps on deposit, he might be better off keeping his opinions out of the newspaper.

But, he is a plucky lad and will not be held down by a few tough quarters. According to The Wall Street Journal "Mr. Miller said that the current value of Microsoft’s offer — $29.17 per share as of 4 p.m. Nasdaq market trading Tuesday — "is not something I’m too excited about." Legg Mason owns 7% of Yahoo!’s shares.

The investment firm may want to make its own offer of $35 a share for Yahoo! because no one else will. Even if the Microsoft bid is a poor business decision by Redmond, no other company has stepped up to top it. Rumored conversations with Time Warner (TWX) and News Corp (NWS) have not been sufficiently important so that Yahoo! can point to them as serious alternatives.

Miller may be the only man, woman, or child who thinks that anyone will come along with a better offer for the struggling portal company.

Miller is now used to watching the value of his investments tank. He can see a rerun of the implosion of his portfolio as Microsoft walks off and Yahoo! drops to $17. All he will have to keep him warm at night will be his opinions.

Douglas A. McIntyre