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Why Buffett's wrong on bitcoin: Legg Mason's Miller

Buffett's 'logical flaw' on bitcoin: Miller
Buffett's 'logical flaw' on bitcoin: Miller

Legg Mason's Bill Miller may have lost 20 percent of his investment in bitcoin, but he's still bullish on its potential. The money manager told CNBC on Thursday he bought into the cryptocurrency after its biggest exchange, Mt.Gox, collapsed earlier this year.

Miller, chairman and chief investment officer at Legg Mason Capital Management, said bitcoin makes sense when investors look at its risks versus rewards. The payoffs would be huge if the digital currency can obtain a small fraction of gold's market share, he said.

Bitcoin prices exploded last year just past $1,100 only to hit several potholes in recent weeks. Bitcoins traded at $410 on Thursday morning, according to exchange

"You can't go buy anything with gold today in the United States," Miller said on "Squawk Box." "If it becomes only 10 percent as popular as gold, then it's an $800 billion market value. You can lose 100 percent of your money, or you can make 120 times your money. I think the risk reward is OK."

Miller commented on billionaire Warren Buffett's description of bitcoin as a "mirage" last month on "Squawk Box." Miller said Buffett was right about bitcoin's potential as a means of money transfers or payments. Beside that, he said, Buffett had a "logical flaw in his thinking."

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Comparing bitcoin to checks or money orders doesn't take into account the hard limit of 21 million bitcoins that its inventors have placed on its global supply, Miller added.

"If there were 21 million checks in the world and that's all there were, checks would be very very valuable," Miller said.

Legg Mason's Bill Miller bets on subprime growth
Legg Mason's Bill Miller bets on subprime growth

Miler disclosed another one of his investments during his "Squawk Box" interview: subprime mortgage servicers such as Nationstar.

"We think subprime, which was a disaster before, is a growth area now," Miller said.

Miller holds 30 percent of his portfolio in financial stocks, such as Bank of America and Citigroup. He mentioned Springleaf, a reconstituted subprime lender, as a stock to watch. Miller said he owns a stake in subprime mortgage servicer Nationstar. He said both companies were benefiting from bigger banks selling their mortgage servicing rights because of higher capital requirements.

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Miller said he hopes Citi sells its subprime unit to Springleaf.

"That would be good for both companies," Miller said.

Three foundations of a bull market: Pro
Three foundations of a bull market: Pro

Miller also said the market's current conditions meet the criteria for a strong year.

He named three pillars needed for a sustained rally: liquidity, growth and valuations. He said the stock market should show positive progress in each area throughout the year.

The recent selloff "made everything in the market a dart board that you could buy in my opinion, and do well in the next few months," Miller said. "The conditions for a bear market aren't in evidence."

Asked how to put a number on how confident he felt about the stock market's prospects, Miller said "eight, nine, 10," before cautioning that his forecasts only applied to the next year or two.

"After that it gets murkier," Miller said.

Disclosure: Miller's fund owns shares of Citigroup.

—By CNBC's Jeff Morganteen.