When it comes to investing, going with the crowd will rarely -- if ever -- make you rich. If your objective is to buy low and sell high, then in the words of Warren Buffett, you must be "greedy when others are fearful and fearful when others are greedy." This is the foundation of contrarian investing.
But there's a twist. To be a contrarian investor, you must first know what to be contrary to. And this is where the SEC's invaluable EDGAR database comes in. Every quarter, companies and large institutional investors are required to disclose their equity holdings. By patching these together, we can get a fuller picture of a particular stock's popularity.
What follows, in turn, is a look at the principal owners of Goldman Sachs' (NYSE: GS ) outstanding common stock.
A broad overview
As you can see in the following chart, the majority of Goldman Sachs' 481.5 million shares are held by institutional investors. Company insiders, including board members and corporate executives, own a further 1.78% of the outstanding common stock. And the public at large owns the remaining 30%.
Digging in a big further, the largest institutional stakeholders in Goldman Sachs are bond giant BlackRock, followed by Capital Research and Management Co., The Vanguard Group, the asset management arms of State Street (NYSE: STT ) , and Citigroup (NYSE: C ) .
The largest buyers have been Citigroup and Orbis Investment Management, which have recently acquired 14.9 million and 1.6 million shares of common stock, respectively. Meanwhile, the two largest sellers of late have been Capital Research and Management Co. and Wellington Management Co., which have disposed of 2.8 million and 2.4 million shares, respectively.
Turning to inside investors, the largest inside owner is Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs' chairman and chief executive officer. The second largest holder is John Weinberg, the co-head of investment banking. And the third largest holder is Gregory Palm, the bank's general counsel.
The Foolish bottom line
While insider and institutional ownership together represent only one metric, it's nevertheless an important one. Beyond hinting at the overall market's sentiment toward a stock, it also gives investors insight into the confidence of the people best positioned to predict a company's current state and future success.
Want to learn more about Goldman Sachs?
With big finance firms still trading at deep discounts to their historic norms, investors everywhere are wondering if this is the new normal, or whether finance stocks are a screaming buy today. The answer depends on the company, so to help figure out whether Goldman Sachs is a buy today, I invite you to read our premium research report on the company. Click here now for instant access!