As the 27th richest person in the world (according to Forbes), George Soros is undoubtedly one of the greatest investors of all time. In fact, he may even be the greatest -- Nassim Taleb, citing Soros' success with a wide variety of different investment vehicles, argued that his skill could even exceed Warren Buffett's.
Over the years, Soros has profitably traded nearly all asset classes -- options, stocks, bonds, and currencies. While other fund managers may look to force change at the corporations they're invested in, buy undervalued firms for the long haul, or engage in merger arbitrage, Soros has used a wide variety of different strategies, often betting against the herd or basing his investments on economic fundamentals.
As of last year, the largest holding in his fund (the aptly named Soros Fund Management) was a put option on the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY 0.27%), a bet that he's been steadily increasing in recent quarters. His bearish outlook on U.S. equities may have something do with his views on the eurozone -- earlier this month, Soros warned that European leaders were fulfilling his worst expectations. Soros has been an outspoken critic of eurozone policymakers, arguing that the currency union could ultimately break up. Such an event would likely trigger a major sell-off in equities around the world.
Unlike Buffett, Soros often engages in short-term trading, jumping in and out of positions relatively rapidly. He bought a large stake in the struggling retailer J.C. Penney (JCPN.Q) last year, but has since dumped the position. In contrast to Bill Ackman, who tried to push J.C. Penney's management to make aggressive changes, Soros remained passive, refraining from commenting on the investment. He may have been looking for a bounce, betting against the herd as he often does.
Because of his legendary track record, and his unusual style, Soros is one of the most interesting investors alive today. The following presentation lays out five facts about the Hungarian-born billionaire investors may not have known.