Is Bill Oberndorf the best stock picker in the U.S.? The low profile fund manager ties Abdiel Capital for best risk-adjusted 13F performance.


Is Bill Oberndorf the best stock picker in the U.S.? According to a recent report by, two professional fund managers shared the top ranking for risk-adjusted performance of their stock picks. One of the top ranked funds was Abdiel Capital Advisers, L.P. with a WhaleScore ranking of 99.

You may know of Abdiel Capital. We recently profiled the New York-based fund and its use of a concentrated portfolio to achieve 3 year annualized returns of over 50%.

Who is Bill Oberndorf and how can he be one of the top stock pickers in the U.S.?

The other top-rated manager, according to WhaleWisdom’s scoring, is none other than Bill Oberndorf. You may be asking, Bill who? How can this obscure guy be a better stock picker than Warren Buffett, Ray Dalio or Michael Burry?

WhaleWisdom’s WhaleScore ranking is designed to help investors quickly identify Form 13F filers who consistently beat the market. The proprietary model uses a mixture of risk-return measures (things like Sharpe Ratio, Omega, Calmar, etc.) that tend to best predict future Alpha. 

With WhaleScores of 99, Abdiel and San Francisco-based Oberndorf are the top two managers in the U.S. based on 3 and 5-year risk-reward metrics.

William Oberndorf co-founded value fund SPO Partners in 1969, retiring in 2012 to invest family money.

While Bill Oberndorf may not be a household name, he is by no means a Johnny-come-lately to the hedge fund world. He co-founded SPO Partners in 1969 when tech pioneer John Scully launched San Francisco Partners. Oberndorf retired in 2012 to invest his family’s money. After decades of success, SPO closed in 2018, its managing partner Eli Weinberg telling investors: “Today, we are finding it exceedingly difficult to deploy capital with an acceptable margin of safety.” 

Apparently, Bill Oberndorf had no problem making profitable value investments in recent years. Holding a concentrated portfolio focused on information technology equities, Oberndorf’s stock picks averaged a 36.38% annual return over the last three years, based on equal-weighted returns of his 13F portfolio, balanced quarterly.

The “Oberndorf Entities,” which he invests for include William E. Oberndorf, Oberndorf Investments LLC and the Bill & Susan Oberndorf Foundation.

William Oberndorf’s 13F portfolio vs the S&P 500 total return since 2014.

Below are William Oberndorf’s holdings as of Q3 2019. Note that his top holding, Appfolio Inc. (APPF) is 49.66% of the entire portfolio — it’s overweighting the result of appreciation. The manager filed a 13G on APPF in June of 2015, buying the stock at an estimated $14.10. APPF recently traded at $115.

William Oberndorf Q3 2019 13F holdings.

StockSymbolShares HeldMarket Value% of PortfolioRanking% ChangeChange TypeQtr first ownedAvg Price
Appfolio incAPPF967,12492,102,00049.663%10.00% Q2 201528.1526
Instructure incINST1,458,53856,504,00030.4679%2(7.12%)reductionQ3 201836.1961
Twilio incTWLO127,77414,050,0007.576%30.00% Q3 201741.5898
Herbalife nutrition ltdHLF195,9227,418,0003.9999%41010.98%additionQ1 201637.3101
Liberty global plc class cLBTYK289,8126,895,0003.7179%50.00% Q2 201442.31
Mongodb incMDB55,0006,626,0003.5729%6 newQ3 2019120.48
Tempur sealy international incTPX24,0841,859,0001.0024%7(67.56%)reductionQ3 201764.52
Appian corpAPPN00  (100.00%)soldallQ2 201936.07
Charter communications incCHTR00  (100.00%)soldallQ4 2016287.92
Zoom video communications incZM00  (100.00%)soldallQ2 201988.79

You can view the top 25 managers based on WhaleScore, along with other 13F data, in WhaleWisdom’s Q3 2019 Newsletter.

Contact Mark about investing based on SEC filings and smart money disclosures.


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