"...I started the Tiger funds with total capital of $8.8 million. Eighteen years later, the $8.8 million had grown to $21 billion, an increase of over 259,000 percent."
--Julian Robertson Jr.
Averaging an annual return of 31.7% after fees between 1980 and 2000, obviously we'd all like to invest more like Julian Robertson, and now you can with three simple steps: To quote Robertson in a 1996 interview, you have to find a "smart idea, grounded on exhaustive research, followed by a big bet."
1. Smart idea
Smart investing ideas are found where opportunity meets a strong competitive position. For Robertson, opportunity could mean boring companies that go unnoticed, companies with beaten down stock prices, or businesses in growing markets.
When this is combined with a company that has a "moat" -- or a distinct quality that gives them an advantage over competition – investors will find the most success.
Like Warren Buffett said, "If somebody walks in this door and they weigh between 300 and 350 pounds, I don't need to say they weigh 327 to say that they're fat." Essentially, when you see a smart idea, you'll know.
2. Grounded on exhaustive research
To prove her smart ideas were actually smart, one of Robertson's analysts, Katrin Yaghoubi, would talk to every industry expert she could find, and in one case actually became an Avon representative to get an inside look at the company.
The idea of exhaustive research like this may sound impossible, but it's likely you are already doing it. Parents will have some of the best insights on toy companies like LeapFrog, avid Golfers will be the first to know if Callaway Golf is making the best clubs, and the list goes on. Everyone is an expert on something, and sticking to what you know is something Julian Robertson and other great investors do.
Along with leveraging your expertise, you'll need to take a look at the company's filings. Companies making great products aren't likely to be doing it for long if they're swimming in debt and not making any money.
3. Followed by a big bet
When Robertson finds a smart idea that is supported by strong industry knowledge and extensive research he likes to bet the farm. Today, 50% of Tiger Funds' $274,000,000 market value portfolio is made up of just five stocks, three of which are technology stocks.
With 49 stocks in his portfolio, betting big doesn't mean you are limited to holding only a few stocks. What does mean is your best idea, or the companies you believe in the most, should be the centerpieces of your portfolio.
Putting it all together
One of Robertson's current smart ideas is Google, which as of most recent filings makes up 11.3% of his portfolio. As a technology stock, Google is a business that is well within Robertson's wheelhouse. Alluding to the company's incredible growth opportunities Robertson said that Google is "developing new devices at all time. People aren't aware exactly where it will ever stop." With a strong brand name and $19.6 billion in cash, as of June 2014, the company has an incredible market position. And lastly, Robertson believes Google has one of the most intelligent management teams.
Add it all together and you have a smart idea, grounded on extensive research, a big bet, and another winning stock pick from legendary hedge fund manager Julian Robertson.
Dave Koppenheffer has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends and owns Gilead Sciences, Facebook, Google (A shares), and Google (C shares). Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.