Hedge-fund managers hold a special reverence for most investors, but frequently, it's misplaced. While many are successful, just as many miss the mark. With so many 13-f filings, CNBC appearances, and 100-slide presentations, it can be confusing to know which ones to follow.

Often, individual investors follow the loudest "whales," assuming that frequency of appearances or loudness of claims must be indicative of underlying skill. This can be bad news. 

Bill Ackman, the famous activist investor, has had two very public positions over the last year: JC Penney (NYSE:JCP) and Herbalife (NYSE:HLF). Yet, the majority of his portfolio sits in two companies that most investors don't even know he owns: Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) and Canadian Pacific (NYSE:CP)

Had investors followed his very-public positions on the first two stocks, they would have lost their shirts. 

It can be tempting to follow the loudest presentation but, in the end, investors should do their own due diligence, and try to avoid the head that they saw on CNBC most often. 

Austin Smith has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Procter & Gamble. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2015 $50 calls on Herbalife Ltd. 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.