When it comes to hedge funds, I often think of Winston Churchill's famous 1939 quote about Britain's then-ally against Germany: "I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma."

But occasionally, a little ray of light is shined on what hedge funds are doing, courtesy of our good friends over at Goldman Sachs (please read that with a hint of sarcasm).

Every quarter, Goldman chief U.S. equity strategist David Kostin compiles a list of the 50 stocks that "matter the most" to hedge funds. The list is based on his analysis of 558 hedge funds with $429 billion in equity assets that own between 10 and 200 individual stock positions.

While the list is slightly dated -- the positions were current at the end of September -- it nevertheless provides an interesting peek behind one of Wall Street's most impenetrable curtains. And it also reveals how many of these seemingly sophisticated institutions invest in the very same stocks that we here at The Motley Fool recommend: large multinational corporations with consistent streams of income.

Rank

Company

Funds With Stock as Top 10 Holding

1 Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) 105
2 Google 58
3 Microsoft 50
4 JPMorgan Chase 31
5 Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) 29
6 Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM) 29
7 General Motors 28
8 LyondellBasell Industries 24
9 Liberty Interactive 22
10 Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU) 21
11 Amazon.com 20
12 Anadarko Petroleum 20
13 Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS) 20
14 Visa (NYSE: V) 19
15 Wells Fargo 19
16 Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO) 18
17 ExxonMobil 18
18 Citigroup 17
19 Charter Communications 17
20 CIT Group 17

Source: Zero Hedge, citing Lionshare via FactSet, IDC, and Goldman Sachs Global ECS Research.

Foolish bottom line
While there's no use in trying to invest like a hedge fund -- and who'd want to in light of the abysmal track record that many of them have had over the last few years? -- it doesn't hurt to know what they're up to. If you are on the hunt for a great stock recommendation, however, you should check out our most recent free report: "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2012." It details a little-known company that we believe could be the next "Costco of Latin America." To access this free report before the rest of the market catches on, click here now.

Foolish contributor John Maxfield does not have a financial position in any of the companies mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of JPMorgan Chase, Apple, Citigroup, Google, Qualcomm, Microsoft, Wells Fargo, and Cisco Systems, as well as having created a covered strangle position on Wells Fargo and bull call spread positions on Cisco Systems and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Cisco Systems, Baidu, Goldman Sachs, Amazon.com, Google, Apple, Pfizer, Microsoft, Visa, and General Motors, as well as creating a bull call spread position in Apple. 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.