Sometimes it feels as though the name Warren Buffett is morphing into something like the legend of Bloody Mary - say his name three times in a column about investing and readers suddenly appear. It is very much worth mentioning, though, that Warren Buffett is simply one example of a successful investor and businessman. Granted, Mr. Buffett is an excellent example of a successful investor, but readers might be interested in considering the approaches and track records of other investors that have enjoyed considerable professional success, but do not necessarily get the same publicity as Warren Buffett. (This esteemed investor rarely changes his long-term investing strategy, no matter what the market does. See Warren Buffett's Bear Market Maneuvers.)

TUTORIAL: The Greatest Investors

George Soros
Perhaps it would have seemed impossible to imagine as he was living through World War II, but George Soros became one of the most successful investors in history. With a current net worth north of $14 billion, Soros is largely retired as an active investor. However, he established a remarkable record while running the Quantum Group of hedge funds.

Soros is mostly known for his successes in making large bets in the currency and commodity markets. The most famous success story of his career is most likely Britain's Black Wednesday currency crisis, where Soros correctly surmised that the country would have to devalue the pound and reportedly made around $1 billion on his positions.

Whereas Buffett is famous for carefully evaluating individual companies and holding those positions for years, Soros was much more inclined to base his investment decisions on what would be considered macroeconomic factors. What's more, investments in the currency and commodity markets do not lend themselves to multi-decade (or even multi-month) commitments, so Soros was a much more active investor. (George Soros spent decades as one of the world's elite investors, and even he didn't always come out on top. But when he did, it was spectacular. Check out George Soros: The Philosophy Of An Elite Investor.)

Ronald Perelman
Some will question whether Perelman is properly called an "investor." Though no one will dispute that a net worth of approximately $12 billion entitles him to be seen as a significant success in business, Pererlman's activities have centered on acquiring businesses outright, refocusing them on core competencies (often through spin-offs) and then either selling the companies later at a profit or holding onto them for the cashflow they produce. In that latter regard, though, Perelman is not so unlike Buffett - much of Buffett's success can be tied to the prudent acquisition of value-creating businesses within Berkshire Hathaway.

While Perelman has frequently faced criticism for his acquisition tactics and management decisions, he has nevertheless had many successful transactions, including his involvement in Marvel, New World Communications and several thrifts, savings and loans and banks.

John Paulson
With about $16 billion in net worth, John Paulson is arguably the most successful hedge fund investor today. What makes that even more impressive is that he founded Paulson & Co in 1994 with purportedly with only $2 million. Paulson really made his name during the credit crisis that marked the end of the housing bubble; reportedly shorting CDOs, mortgage backed securities and other tainted housing-related assets, as well as shorting the shares of several major British banks. Perhaps ironically, Paulson has benefited from both sides of that trade, having also taken long positions in companies like Regions Financial, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Citigroup.

Carl Icahn
In some respects, Carl Icahn follows an approach that is somewhat similar to Warren Buffett, as Icahn has built his fortune through a combination of equity investments and outright acquisitions. That is where the similarities end, though, as Icahn has generally pursued a much more aggressive strategy and shown no particular reticence to launch hostile offers. What's more, Icahn is not often interested in investing in business and seeing them continue to run as before; Icahn has built a reputation as a so-called activist investor who frequently pushes corporate managements to restructure, sell assets and return cash to shareholders.

Differences aside, Icahn's strategy has worked. Icahn has built a fortune reportedly worth in excess of $11 billion through his involvement in a range of companies including RJR Nabisco, Viacom and Time Warner. (Buying up failing investments and turning them around helped to create the "Icahn lift" phenomenon. To learn more, check out Carl Icahn's Investing Strategy.)

James Simons
If there is an "anti-Buffett" on this list, James Simons may be a good candidate. Holding a PhD in mathematics from Berkeley, Simons founded Renaissance Technologies and uses exceptionally complicated mathematical models to analyze and evaluate trading opportunities. While Buffett is famous for having a minimal staff, Renaissance Technologies reportedly employs dozens of PhDs in fields like physics, mathematics and statistics to find previously under-used correlations and connections that can be used for better trading results.

Or at least that is as much as is known about Renaissance Technologies - while Buffett is rather open about his investment philosophies and methodologies, Simons maintains a much lower profile. Nevertheless, this heavily quantitative approach seems to work. Mr. Simons is estimated to be worth nearly $11 billion and his funds have been so successful that they can charge outsized management fees and profit participation percentages to investors.

Others Worthy Of Note
Investors would also do well to consider the careers of other well-known investors like Jim Rogers, Mark Mobius, and Peter Lynch. While Mobius is the only one of the three still highly involved in day-to-day investment operators, all three men have become very closely associated with their particular investment philosophies. Rogers is a go-to commentator on commodities and macroeconomic investments, while Mobius may be the best known emerging-markets investor of all time.

Peter Lynch, though many years removed his tenure at Fidelity and his management of the Magellan fund, is still widely seen as a leading voice in "disciplined growth" investing. All three men have written about their investment philosophies and outlooks, and their approaches are accessible and informative. (For related reading, check Pick Stocks Like Peter Lynch.)

The Bottom Line
Investors should cast their eyes beyond Warren Buffett if they wish to really learn about all that investing can offer. There is no doubting or ignoring Buffett's exemplary record, but there is always more to learn by broadening the pool of examples. While investors like Simons and Soros may seem to focus on strategies and techniques that are beyond the means of regular investors, there are still valuable lessons to be learned about macroeconomics and the benefits of looking at the markets in new and proprietary ways.

Related Articles
  1. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    The Democratization of the Hedge Fund Industry

    The coveted compensations of hedge fund managers are protected by barriers of entry to the industry, but one recent startup is working to break those barriers.
  2. Professionals

    A Day in the Life of a Hedge Fund Manager

    Learn what a typical early morning to late evening workday for a hedge fund manager consists of and looks like from beginning to end.
  3. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Top Schwab Funds for Retirement

    These Schwab funds are strategically designed and have performed well on a historical basis, meaning they're solid options for retirement.
  4. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    American Funds' Top Funds for Retirement

    Planning for retirement in this economic and investment environment is far from easy. American Funds might offer an answer.
  5. Stock Analysis

    What Exactly Does Warren Buffett Own?

    Learn about large changes to Berkshire Hathaway's portfolio. See why Warren Buffett has invested in a commodity company even though he does not usually do so.
  6. Financial Advisors

    Are Alternatives Right for Your Portfolio?

    Alternative investments are increasingly making their way into retail investors' portfolios. Are they a good fit?
  7. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    ETF Fees: Why BlackRock is the Latest to Cut Them

    Low expense ratios are a big selling point for ETFs, but are they being focused on too much?
  8. Financial Advisors

    Vanguard's Target Date Funds: What You Should Know

    Target date funds have grown in popularity as an investment of choice among 401(k) investors. Here's a closer look at Vanguard's offerings.
  9. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Zeroing in on Fidelity’s Top Funds for Retirement

    Fidelity's retirement funds might offer long-term potential, but perhaps a better opportunity is available.
  10. Professionals

    Common Interview Questions for Business Analysts

    Identify some of the most common job interview questions asked of business analyst candidates, and learn the responses that will make you stand out.
  1. Can hedge funds trade penny stocks?

    Hedge funds can trade penny stocks. In fact, hedge funds can trade in just about any type of security, including medium- ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Are hedge funds regulated by FINRA?

    Alternative investment vehicles such as hedge funds offer investors a wider range of possibilities due to certain exceptions ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Should mutual funds be subject to more regulation?

    Mutual funds, when compared to other types of pooled investments such as hedge funds, have very strict regulations. In fact, ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Can hedge fund returns be replicated?

    You can replicate hedge fund returns to a degree but not perfectly. Most replication strategies underperform hedge funds ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Can foreign investors invest in US hedge funds?

    U.S. hedge funds are open to accredited investors. When they distribute profits to investors, those proceeds are taxed at ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Do hedge funds manipulate stock prices?

    Some economics professors think there is evidence of manipulation of certain stocks by hedge funds on key reporting days. ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Take A Bath

    A slang term referring to the situation of an investor who has experienced a large loss from an investment or speculative ...
  2. Black Friday

    1. A day of stock market catastrophe. Originally, September 24, 1869, was deemed Black Friday. The crash was sparked by gold ...
  3. Turkey

    Slang for an investment that yields disappointing results or turns out worse than expected. Failed business deals, securities ...
  4. Barefoot Pilgrim

    A slang term for an unsophisticated investor who loses all of his or her wealth by trading equities in the stock market. ...
  5. Quick Ratio

    The quick ratio is an indicator of a company’s short-term liquidity. The quick ratio measures a company’s ability to meet ...
  6. Black Tuesday

    October 29, 1929, when the DJIA fell 12% - one of the largest one-day drops in stock market history. More than 16 million ...
Trading Center