The latest ranking of the richest of the rich is out and while the top of the Forbes 400 list is dominated by technology, retail, and candy gurus, hedge fund managers are well represented too.
Overall, seven hedge fund managers are ranked among the 50 richest people in America, but it's George Soros, Carl Icahn, and Ray Dalio that stand out among them.
The stock picking prowess of these three hedge fund managers is legendary and each of them boasts a net worth north of $15 billion, so let's take a closer look at what these managers are worth, how they made their money, and what they're investing in nowadays.
No. 1: George Soros -- ranked #16 in America with a net worth of $24.5 billion
Ask any of his peers to make a list of the most influential hedge fund managers of the past forty years and Soros is likely to be atop the list.
A survivor of Germany's occupation of Hungary in World War II, Soros emigrated into England in 1947 to study economics and later landed jobs in financial arbitrage and equity analysis before founding Soros Fund Management in 1970. Over the years, Soros successes are many, but he's probably best known for orchestrating a short trade that is thought to have broken the back of the Bank of England in the early 1990's.
Today, Soros continues to invest in equities and his high turnover investment style means that many of the stocks he owned exiting last quarter won't be in his portfolio this quarter. For that reason, investors need to take his holdings that were reported to regulators at the end of June, including Time Warner Cable (UNKNOWN:TWC.DL), Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), and Adecoagra SA, with a grain of salt.
No. 2: Carl Icahn -- ranked #22 in America with a net worth of $20.5 billion.
Icahn takes a much different approach to investing than Soros. Instead of trading in and out of equities frequently, Icahn buys stock in companies that are itching for change and then acts as an activist convincing management to make shareholder friendly decisions.
A philosophy major and son of two teachers, Icahn began his career by working in a brokerage firm in the early 1960's. In 1968, Icahn formed his own securities firm and some of his most famous investments over the years include his hostile take-over of TWA, a once prominent airline, and a hostile take-over attempt of U.S. Steel.
Currently, Icahn's biggest investments include massive stakes in Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), CVR Energy, and PayPal, which came to him after he convinced Ebay to spin-off the money transfer service.
No. 3: Ray Dalio -- ranked #29 in America with a net worth of $15.3 billion.
The son of a jazz musician, Dalio received an MBA from Harvard before working on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and later as a commodities and futures trader.
In 1975, Dalio founded Bridgewater Associates, a hedge fund he still manages today and that boasts the distinction of being the biggest hedge fund in the world with an astonishing $150 billion in assets under management.
In June, Bridgewater's top holdings included Apple, Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) and Suncor Energy, but these investments are part of a massive and diversified portfolio that includes 441 different equities. Therefore, investors looking to mimic Dalio's investments may want to consider buying a major market ETF; especially since Vanguard's International Equity Index Fund is Bridgewater's biggest holding with a value of roughly $4 billion.
Tying it together
These three super-rich hedge fund managers have different investing styles: Soros embraces a high-turnover approach, Icahn runs a concentrated portfolio that gives him access to management, and Dalio will hold stocks for a longer period within a diversified portfolio.
Despite their different approaches, all three hedge fund gurus have enjoyed remarkable success; however, that success hasn't come overnight. In one way or another, all three of these rich hedge fund managers have been involved in the markets since at least the 1960's and that means that each of them has survived plenty of market bumps and bruises along the way. Their survival and, ultimately, their success through the market's inevitable pops and drops is testament to the value of focusing less on today's winners or losers and more on the bigger opportunity that exists in the market over the long-haul.
Todd Campbell has no position in any stocks mentioned. Todd owns E.B. Capital Markets, LLC. E.B. Capital's clients may have positions in the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple, eBay, Facebook, and PayPal Holdings. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2016 $37 calls on Coca-Cola, short January 2016 $43 calls on Coca-Cola, and short January 2016 $37 puts on Coca-Cola. The Motley Fool recommends Coca-Cola. 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.