The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time
By: Jonathan Wolfgram,
The 50 greatest investors of all time made a fortune by applying basic financial principles or by creating the principles themselves.
Investors are always on the lookout for new and innovative ways to grow their portfolios and achieve their financial goals, and they also can learn a great deal from studying some of history’s greatest minds. From technical indicators to unique contrarian philosophies, the majority of investment strategies used today were created by a few brilliant financial thinkers.
We will take a look at some of the most successful investors of all time, and explore what we can learn from them. Whether you are brand new to investing or you have been managing money for decades, there is something to be gleaned from these 50 masters of the financial world. To avoid any hint of bias, this article will not include any of our in-house investment gurus.
For additional reading, check out our other articles on the greatest investors of all time:
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time: #50:
Jerry Buss was an investor, chemist and owner of the Los Angeles Lakers professional basketball team. He made his initial fortune through real estate but entered the public eye when he purchased the Lakers.
Buss was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, to poor parents Louis Buss and Lyda Hill in 1933. Despite growing up with little money, Buss was a bright student and went on to study at the University of Wyoming and then the University of Southern California (USC).
The investor began his career in real estate, targeting properties around Los Angeles. He later used this fortune to purchase the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team for $67 million in 1979. The team ultimately won 10 championships under his ownership. He died in February 2013.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time: #49:
Chris Sacca is an American investor, venture capitalist and lawyer who is the proprietor of Lowercase Capital. Sacca was an early investor and a strategic advisor at Uber, Instagram and Twitter and has made a fortune on his more speculative investments.
Despite his wealth and success, Sacca is known for his down-to-earth attitude and approachability; he frequently interacts with followers on social media and gives advice to entrepreneurs who reach out to him. He has also been involved in philanthropic endeavors, most notably co-founding the non-profit organization Malaria No More.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time: #48:
James O’Shaughnessy is a brilliant investor who started his career as a stockbroker. He later joined Oppenheimer & Co., where he ran equity research for 12 years before opening his own firm in 1989.
O’Shaughnessy is known for developing the Relative Strength Index (RSI), an oscillating indicator that tracks market momentum and helps traders identify overbought or oversold conditions. The RSI was originally developed by J. Welles Wilder Jr, but O’Shaughnessy modified it to include multiple time periods instead of just closing prices — these are often referred to as “O’Shaughnessy” RSI’s because they use information from previous sessions on top of current data points.
O’Shaughnessy is also well-known for his quantitative investment strategies, which focus on factors such as price-to-earnings (P/E ratios), earnings yield and return on equity (ROE). He has written several books on investing, including “What Works on Wall Street” and “How to Retire Rich.”
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time: #47:
William O’Neil is the founder and chairman of Investor’s Business Daily, a financial news service that provides information on stocks to more than 100,000 subscribers. O’Neil began his career as a stockbroker in 1961 and founded IBD in 1984.
O’Neil is also the author of several books on investing, including “How to Make Money in Stocks: A Winning System in Good Times and Bad.” His system for picking stocks has been used by millions of people and has made him extraordinarily wealthy.
O’Neil’s approach to investing is based on two very basic principles: find good companies and buy them at a reasonable price.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time: #46:
Ron Muhlenkamp is an award-winning investment manager, frequent speaker and regular guest figure in financial media. The investor currently manages over $20 billion dollars in assets with clients all across the globe, including Australia, Europe, United Kingdom and North America. He founded Muhlenkamp & Co. Inc. (MUHL) in 1977 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania where he was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society.
Much of Muhlenkamp’s life and research was dedicated to assessing the effectiveness of different investment strategies, whether technical, principled or fundamental. The patterns he discovered inform his current investment portfolio, and are described in his quarterly newsletter Muhlenkamp Memorandum, as well as his book “Ron’s Road to Wealth: Insights for the Curious Investor.”
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time: #45:
Ralph Wanger was born in 1924 and passed away at age 96, leaving behind a legacy as an investor who made billions of dollars by investing only $100,000 in his fund per year.
He spent most of his career working with mid-cap stocks but moved to small caps after he became frustrated with how corporations were being run.
Wanger is known best for beating the S&P 500 index over several decades through investments in good companies that were overlooked or undervalued strictly because they weren’t well-known enough yet.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time: #44:
Walter Schloss was a powerful investor with a unique method of picking stocks. Schloss’s investment philosophy focused almost entirely on people rather than stock charts and raw data.
The investor was known to track insider ownership, making many of his decisions based on the buy and sell patterns of those “in the know.” His ability to read people gave him a knack for buying companies that were out-of-favor and frequently invested in companies at low dips to reap maximal rewards later — the lower they traded, the more interested Schloss became. If the stock hit rock bottom, he could buy it for nothing. “It was like picking up dollars off the ground,” Schloss often said of his investment strategy.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time: #43:
Martin Zweig is an American investor and author with a long history of investing in growth stocks with value characteristics — a strategy that helped him achieve impressive returns over the years.
His investment philosophy is based on the idea that it’s more important to focus on a company’s future potential than its past performance. This approach has allowed him to beat the market consistently and become a respected authority in the investing world. Zweig is also known for his bestselling book “Winning on Wall Street,” which provides valuable insights into his investment strategies and the work he did to secure his place as one of the greatest investors of all time.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time: #42:
Charles Kirkpatrick is an investor and author known for writing the book “Beat the Market: Invest by Knowing What Stocks to Buy and What Stocks to Sell.”
Kirkpatrick has a long and successful track record as an investor. He started his own investment firm in 1968, which became one of the largest in the country. In his book, Kirkpatrick shares the strategies he used to accomplish this, as well as his insights on how to pick winning stocks and beat the market. The book has been praised by experts for its clear and concise advice.
Despite being retired, Kirkpatrick still offers valuable investing advice through his blog and newsletter. He is a strong advocate of value investing, which focuses on buying stocks at a discount relative to their intrinsic value.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time, #41:
Chamath Palihapitiya is a Canadian venture capitalist, engineer, special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) sponsor and founder of Social Capital. He was a senior executive at Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) from 2007-2011. Upon his departure from the company, Palihapitiya founded his fund and used it to invest in other young technology stocks, such as Yammer and Slack.
His speculative investments largely have focused on SPACs in the last several years, potentially due to the regulatory differences between going public through that non-traditional method instead of with traditional initial public offerings (IPOs).
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time, #40:
Investor Cathie Wood is the founder and featured stock-picker of ARK invest. Her flagship fund, Ark Innovation Fund (NYSE:ARKK), currently has $23 billion in assets and is focused almost exclusively on experimental technology. The fund has averaged 45% returns per year over the last five years.
Cathie Wood is one of the most vocal advocates for Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) but distributes much of the rest of her funding among small companies experimenting with futuristic technology. Self-driving cars, genomics and fledgling cryptocurrencies are found on her list of investment holdings.
The rest of the fund is invested in high-quality growth companies making moves in the tech-industry. Although her success has been largely recent, we can anticipate it growing exponentially as technology companies continue to evolve.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time, #39:
Jim Rogers is an American investor, financial commentator and cofounder of the Quantum Fund with George Soros. The fund had its most successful years shortly after its founding, from 1973 to 1980 — under Rogers’ and Soros’ management, the portfolio grew 4,200%. The S&P 500 grew just 47% during the same time period.
Rogers is a notorious bear. While he focuses much of his investments on undervalued stocks and equities, the investor concentrates a significant portion of his portfolio in commodities and “real goods,” which he believes is an undervalued industry as a whole. In line with this philosophy, Rogers has urged many young investors to leave Wall Street and focus their careers on mining, engineering, farming and other industries producing sustainable goods.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time, #38:
Seth Klarman is a billionaire hedge fund manager and inductee to the Hedge Fund Manager Hall of Fame. He is the lead portfolio manager at the Budapest group, where he turned the fund’s inception capital of $27 million into $27 billion in assets managed today.
Known as the “Oracle of Boston,” many comparisons have been made between him and the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett. Like Buffett, Klarman is a devotee to Benjamin Graham’s style of value investing where he seeks undervalued assets with a high margin of safety to profit from any rise in price.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time, #37:
Jacob Little was an investor in the mid-1800s who made a fortune on bold, speculative investments in the railroad industry. While his trades and insightful market maneuvers were legendary and he was considered the greatest investor of his day, he was not well loved by his peers.
Little had a habit of taking massive short positions that could ultimately ruin companies, or corner hoards of other investors attempting similar strategies. He was one of the earliest and most successful practitioners of market manipulation and became a powerful financial titan.
For a time, the investor’s risky predictions made him one of the richest men in America. The same moves also fully bankrupted him at least three times in his career.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time, #36:
Eduardo Elsztain is an Argentinian investor who has worked closely with George Soros. The man first connected with Soros when walking into his office and asking him for a $10 million investment. By Elsztain’s charm and charisma, Soros accepted, and the Argentinian grew the $10 million into a $500 million portfolio within a matter of years.
Elsztain bet heavily in favor of the bearish Argentine real-estate market — despite popular belief, the Argentinian economy recovered after 2002 and the pair made a fortune. He and Soros developed the Dolphin Fund together and have used it to purchase more Argentinian land and shopping centers at the depth of the market corrections and crashes since then.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time, #35:
Sam Zell is a real estate investor who is considered by many as the father of Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITS). He began buying real estate in the 1960s through economic turmoil and continued to increase his position during market crashes and corrections. The investor perfectly predicted economic growth patterns and held much of his portfolio for over 40 years — his mantra “stay alive ‘til 95” encapsulated his faith in the real estate market’s long-term viability despite short-term market pessimism.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time: #34:
Michael Steinhardt is philanthropist, billionaire investor and buyer of stolen antiquities. Steinhardt started his career as a trader at Shearson Hayden Stone, where he learned the ropes of investing from a series of mentors. After a few years, he left to start his own firm, which would later become Steinhardt Partners. With this new fund, Michael quickly established himself as one of the most successful investors on Wall Street, able to achieve average annual returns of 24.5% for 28 consecutive years
Aside from his success as an investor, Michael is also well-known for his philanthropy work. He has donated millions of dollars to various causes over the years, including education, science, health care and Jewish organizations. In 2001, he established the Michael Steinhardt Foundation to support a wide variety of research initiatives through the funding of academic chairs at several universities.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time, #33:
Kirk Kerkorian was a media-mogul invested mainly in the film industry, but his life was truly the stuff of movies. An eighth-grade dropout, amateur boxer, daredevil pilot and professional gambler before hitting Wall Street, Kerkorian took on risk that would make the hedge-fund managers of his day sick.
The investor built his fortune from the ground up, investing in high-risk operations that (in the long run) made him billions of dollars. Kerkorian owned Mirage Resorts, bought and sold MGM three times and created a commercial airline that he would later sell, repurchase and finally sell again.
Although Kerkorian had the keen instinct to scout out and purchase small entertainment companies with the potential to make it big, he was not a public figure. The investor would rather be seen at the card table with his friends, Cary Grant and Frank Sinatra.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time, #32:
Peter Thiel is a German-American billionaire investor famous for his co-founding of PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL) and early investment in Facebook (NASDAQ:FB). The investor was also important in funding Airbnb (NASDAQ:ABNB), SpaceX and many more daring young companies turned technology giants.
Where most other investors on this list are hedge fund managers by trade, Thiel made his fortune as a venture capitalist. His early faith in a few key world-changing companies made him one of the richest investors in technology — these hyper-concentrated investments were often bold, risky plays, but enough of them paid off in full to make Thiel a legendary investor.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time, #31:
Bill Ackman, an activist investor mentored by Warren Buffett, is the billionaire fund-manager of Pershing Square Holdings. His fund has outperformed the S&P 500, as well as his mentor’s Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK_B) in the last three years. More notably for our readers, over half (roughly 60%) of its portfolio holdings are invested in dividend stocks.
Outside of dividend investments, Ackman is famous for his successful takeovers of Canadian Pacific, Fortune Brands and Allergan. These victories as an activist investor gave him billions of dollars in profits, allowing for more aggressive reinvestment in stable, dividend-paying equities.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time: #30:
Josef Lakonishok is an American investor and professor famed for both his academic prowess and his founding of LSV Asset Management. Having garnered an average annualized return of over 20% throughout his time as a professional investor, Lakonishok aptly applies the stock analysis research he puts out via his university position.
Lakonishok has published more than 80 articles, covering a range of topics from technical trading strategies, seasonality of stock returns, share repurchases and so on. His academic contribution to the financial world has impacted the work of countless other investors, algorithms and trading strategies to date.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time: #29:
Geraldine Weiss, known as the “grande dame of dividends,” made a fortune on dividend distributions by focusing on safe, blue-chip dividend stocks. She earned this nickname by her unconventional approach to evaluating companies, giving more weight to the dividends a company pays rather than its earnings.
Weiss has been quoted as saying that “dividends are to a stock what the cash register is to sales at Macy’s.”
Her love of dividends was passed onto her large following. In 1966, Weiss founded the Investment Quality Trends letter, and became the first woman to ever found an investment advisory service.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time, #28:
Philip Carret created and ran the Pioneer Fund, one of the first mutual funds in the United States. His creation is the third-oldest fund that still exists today.
Through the Pioneer Fund, Carret invested in common stocks and turned a $10,000 initial investment into $8 million by the time of his death in 1998. Warren Buffett said of the investor that “Carret had the best long-term investment record of anyone I know.” He was one of Buffett’s most influential role models.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time, #27:
Michael Burry is most famous for his prediction of the 2008 housing bubble collapse and is featured in the hit movie, “The Big Short.” This was not the first time Burry had bet against the market, however. In 2001, the investor shorted overvalued tech stocks at the peak of the internet bubble, leading his firm Scion Capital to outperform the S&P 500 by nearly 70%.
In the following two years, the S&P 500 continued to lag while Burry’s investments skyrocketed. In 2002, the S&P 500 fell 22.1%, while Scion Capital rose 16%. In 2003, the S&P 500 gained 28.69%, an impressive number dwarfed by Burry’s 50% returns. By 2004, the investor had more than $600 million under his management and was turning away money.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time, #26:
David Swensen began his career on Wall Street but is most famous for his success running Yale University’s endowment fund. The economics PhD revolutionized the way colleges and universities invest, having grown Yale’s fund from $1 billion in 1985 to $31 billion today by spreading his portfolio across hundreds of asset classes.
Swensen delegated portions of Yale’s funding to boutique investment firms focused on commodities, real estate, technology startups and much more. Each of these firms were laser focused on increasing their capital, such that they operated in Yale’s portfolio almost like growth stocks. The idea was that if he could choose quality money managers, they could choose quality assets and allow Yale to diversify even more.
Many of the investment outfits were specifically directed in actual growth stocks as well, allowing Swensen and Yale to build a stable, long-term portfolio now largely used to fund research and education.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time, #25:
Bill Miller is a fund manager, philanthropist and former principal portfolio manager of Legg Mason Capital Management Value Trust. The Johns Hopkins University alumnus invested heavily in Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Valeant Pharmaceuticals and Bitcoin, among other things.
Miller took a long-term view about what value an equity provides. This led Miller to diversify his portfolio with several equities often overlooked by traditional value investors, saying, “Sometimes growth is cheap and value expensive. The question is not growth or value, but where is the best value.”
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time, #24:
Mark Ripple is the author of the book “Handicapping the Wall Street Way,” describing in detail the process of contrarian investing and how to bet against market sentiment successfully.
The money manager graduated from Hudson Valley Community College and began studying at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute before being drafted as an investment banker. Ripple was, at the time, the youngest investment banker in New York at the age of 21 — a few months later, he was recruited by Merrill Lynch.
The investor currently serves a very small clientele through PVR Investment Holdings, where he takes a number of contrarian positions alongside more traditional investments.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time, #23:
Victor Niederhoffer is an American investor, bestselling author, statistician and champion squash player. His diverse set of talents did little to slow down his successful financial career, where he pioneered many now mainstream investing strategies through the investment bank he founded while still an undergraduate at Harvard University.
Niederhoffer published several articles describing market inefficiencies and how to exploit them via speculative investing. He put his own research into practice through another trading firm he founded in 1980, NCZ Commodities. The firm’s success earned the attention and later collaboration of George Soros, who held Niederhoffer in such high regard that he sent his son to work at NCZ Commodities to study under the investor and learn how to trade.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time, #22:
Philip Fisher was an uber-successful investor and author of “Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits,” regarded as Biblical in the growth investing world. Alongside Thomas Rowe Price, Jr., he was one of the early pioneers of growth investing strategies.
Half a decade before Silicon Valley had even been thought of, Philip Fisher was investing in innovative technology companies during their early research and development stages. He made a fortune buying technology companies and holding them for years, believing the long-term gains made by quality companies would far outweigh any profit he could make trading.
Fisher was famously quoted saying the best time to sell a stock was “almost never.” He, along with a few other early investors, validated growth investing as a strategy and shaped the investment thought process we use today.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time, #21:
Ray Dalio, founded Bridgewater Associates, one of the largest and most successful hedge funds in the world. Dalio is known for his unique investment philosophy, which he calls “the art of Bridgewater.” This approach relies on data-driven analysis and risk management to make informed decisions about investments. Bridgewater has been incredibly successful under Dalio’s leadership, earning annualized returns of over 20% since its inception.
Much of his fund’s success came from Dalio’s willingness to stray from public opinion, taking more contrarian positions than many of his peers. Barron’s magazine wrote, “Nobody was better prepared for the global market crash than Bridgewater’s clients and subscribers to its Daily Observations. The company began sounding alarms… in the spring of 2007 about the dangers of excessive financial leverage.”
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time, #20:
David Dreman authored what is considered by many to be the Bible of contrarian money management — his book, “Contrarian Investment Strategy: The Psychology of Stock Market Success,” is considered a must-read for all serious investors. Anyone interested in contrarian investment philosophies will likely find this book to be a valuable starting place.
Dreman continues to write for more adversarial investors today. The author has published a highly-popular column in Forbes magazine for over 20 years. In “The Contrarian,” he discusses some of his own investments, as well as issued anti-market warnings, having become a voice for much of the contrarian investment community.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time, #19:
Dr. Marc Faber was a Swiss-born investor who received his PhD from the esteemed University of Zurich at the young age of 24. The man rallied against popular opinion to forecast Black Monday in 1987, the Japanese bubble in 1990, the gaming stock crash of 1993 and the Asia Pacific Crisis of 1997. Other predictions and lamentations of his can be found in his publication, The Gloom, Boom & Doom Report.
Faber’s contrarian investment philosophy is eminent in his personal motto, “Follow the course opposite to custom and you will almost always be right.”
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time, #18:
Investor David Tepper is said to be the sole reason Goldman Sachs survived the 1987 market crash. Tepper saw the crash as an opportunity to purchase bonds of the financial institutions crippled by the economic collapse — when the economy recovered, the bonds soared in value.
After this feat of brilliance, Tepper was surprised to see he was passed over for partner at Goldman, largely due to his reportedly “loud and profane” manner disconcerting the current executives.
David Tepper opened his own fund and generated returns of 61% in 2001. He focused on distressed bonds and took advantage of the financial struggles faced by S&P 500 companies. The investor prioritizes what he refers to as the “diciest of companies,” making significant returns on those investments considered too risky for the rest of the market.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time, #17:
Joel Greenblatt is renowned both for his current hedge fund management and his vast contributions to the value investing world. Greenblatt manages Gotham Funds, is a director for value investing group Pzena Investment Management, was former chairman of the board of Alliant Techsystems and founded the New York Securities Auction Corporation.
This investor’s greatest contribution to the financial world, however, is likely his magic formula. In his best selling book “The Little Book That Beats the Market.” Greenblatt described a powerful formula to be used as a proprietary stock-screening tool for focusing on 20-30 high-quality stocks that are trading at a discount. It looks for discounted companies with a high earnings yield and high return on invested capital, in addition to other criteria, and has been shown to consistently beat the market over the long term.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time, #16:
Charlie Munger is most famous for his contribution to Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK_B). The investor is still the Vice Chairman of the company at 97 years old and was the source of many of the company’s most important investing decisions.
Charlie Munger was a lifetime business partner and friend of Warren Buffett. He is famously credited by the Oracle of Omaha as the one who swayed his focus from value stocks to purchasing high-quality businesses with the potential for long-term growth. Munger’s investment philosophy is largely characterized by the quote shown below, often misattributed to Buffett himself.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time: #15:
John Pierpont Morgan
John Pierpont Morgan, founder and namesake behind the powerful JP Morgan Chase, was a master of making acquisitions. Many of his deals are still studied today as best practice examples for the industry.
As a financier, Morgan dominated the financial world during the Gilded Age in the late 1800s. One of Morgan’s most famous deals came in 1901 when he led a group of financiers to buy out the United States Steel Corporation. At the time, it was the largest industrial merger in history.
His knack for purchasing and turning around struggling companies has made his bank, JP Morgan Chase, one of the most successful banking institutions in the world. Known as one of the greatest investors of all time, Morgan’s influence on the banking world and his acumen for acquisitions has been studied by investors for generations.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time: #14:
Joseph Piotroski is an influential value investor and Stanford University professor famed for his creation of the price- to-book ratio. His strategy focuses mainly on buying companies that are selling for less than book value, so he often invests in dividend stocks because they have more stable returns over time. This valuation method wasn’t used much before Piotroski popularized it, so many journalists believe this is what makes Piotroski’s legacy so impressive.
An academic first, Piotroski wrote an article called “Value Investing: The Use of Historical Financial Statement Information to Separate Winners from Losers,” which is where many people believe that these investment concepts were first introduced into modern portfolio management techniques.
Piotroski still contributes widely today with over 100 scholarly articles written since 2005 alone.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time: #13:
Richard Driehaus made his fortune as the effective creator of momentum investing. In fact, Driehaus is considered the “father of momentum investing” to this day. The investor looks for stocks that have been moving higher in recent months and buys them in the hope of riding the wave to even greater profits. This strategy can be extremely successful when used correctly, but it also comes with a high amount of risk.
To mitigate this risk, Driehaus was also known for his focus on dividend-paying stocks. The investor believes that dividends are one of the most important factors to look at when assessing a company’s worth, and he has often said that he would rather own a great business with modest growth prospects than a mediocre business with high growth potential. This focus on dividends has helped Driehaus achieve some impressive returns over the years — his fund outperformed 95% of its peers during the financial crisis of 2008.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time: #12:
Bill Gross is known as the “king of bonds” for creating billions in profits by shifting his focus from junk to investment-grade debt and back again, all while keeping fees down.
Gross retired in 2019 from Janus Henderson (JHG), which currently has $419.3 billion under management. He now manages his personal account and his charitable foundation, which has $390 million.
Janus Henderson (JHG), a London and Denver-based asset management company, was formed when San Francisco’s Janus Capital merged with Britain’s Henderson Group Plc in May 2017.
He manages portfolios with a long-term outlook. Gross argues that equities should be held for three to five years. By doing so, investors eliminate the emotional whiplash behind daily fluctuations.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time, #11:
Peter Lynch was an adaptive investor who varied his investment style according to whatever worked at the time. Although he was often described as a chameleon, Lynch consistently allocated funds to companies he saw as undervalued from a technical standpoint.
Peter Lynch had an impressive winning streak: when managing the Fidelity Magellan Fund from 1977 to 1990, beating the S&P 500 index 11 of those 13 years. This grew the fund’s portfolio from $18 million to more than $14 billion, averaging a 29% annual return on his investments.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time, #10:
John Neff is widely considered a contrarian, although he would likely question the title. Neff describes himself as a value investor and saw the most undervalued companies in areas overlooked by the market.
Neff ran the Vanguard Windsor fund for 31 years and averaged 13.7% growth per year, beating the S&P 500 by an average of 3%. He was considered the “professional’s professional.” Despite many of his more contrarian investments, many money managers trusted their personal portfolio to him, believing it would be safer with him than anyone else.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time, #9:
Sir John Templeton began managing the Templeton Growth Fund in 1954 and continued to guide its investments through 1992. An investor, trusting Templeton with $10,000 when his management of Templeton Growth Fund began, would have amassed $2 million at the end of 1992 by reinvesting all the dividend payouts.
While Templeton was also widely considered a contrarian, many of his anti-market investments were low-risk, dividend-paying stocks merely overlooked by others. He had a knack for taking extreme bear markets as an opportunity to buy dividend growth stocks, as well as bankrupt companies likely to reinstate their dividend in the near future.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time, #8:
John “Jack” Bogle founded Vanguard Group in 1975 and revolutionized the world of mutual funds in the process. Vanguard quickly became one of the largest and most influential fund companies in the financial world, popularizing index investing and no-load mutual funds across both institutional investors and retail investors alike.
Jack Bogle created the first ever index fund, Vanguard 500 — the fund was a selection of high-performing, high-quality companies intended to be held for a long period of time. Where many other investors on this list made their fortune picking individual stocks, Bogle championed the idea that investors could diversify across hundreds of slow-growing companies as opposed to a dozen or so risky ones.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time, #7:
Thomas Rowe Price, Jr.
Thomas Rowe Price, Jr. is widely considered the father of growth investing. He implemented growth investing strategies in the early 1900s during the Great Depression, purchasing shares of quality companies with the intent to hold them long term — this strategy seems natural now, but was completely foreign to early investors.
Thomas Rowe Price, Jr. used the broken economy to purchase quality companies at a discounted price. He theorized that economic booms and busts were cyclical and, therefore, the Great Depression would pass in time.
He advocated for investors putting more focus on individual stock picking, finding companies that would be alive and thriving 20 or more years in the future.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time, #6:
In the early days of the U.S. stock market, accurate and up-to-date information was rare, meaning the best data required a massive operation to obtain and market manipulation was everywhere. Jesse Livermore saw this problem and was an early pioneer of technical analysis as a basis for his trades.
Livermore took huge huge short positions before the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and the Wall Street Crash of 1929. Many of his bold moves are considered legendary today — in a time where analysis was a largely new concept, breaking away from market sentiment and public opinion was far less common and far more risky. And yet, Livermore’s biggest and riskiest moves paid off in full.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time: #5:
James Simons is an American billionaire hedge fund manager and mathematician famous for his brilliant quantitative investing strategy. Simons is considered by many to be the greatest hedge fund manager of all time due to the long term success of his company Renaissance Technologies and its flagship fund, the Medallion Fund.
A mathematician first, Simons made major contributions to string theory and quantum field theory with his studies in geometry, topology and, most notably, pattern recognition. His mathematical background led him to develop the most powerful investment algorithms ever created, leading to the creation of the Medallion Fund.
The Medallion Fund is the most profitable hedge fund of all time, with average annual returns of 66% since 1988. The fund is closed to the public, and only available to the mathematicians, physicists and executives working at Renaissance Technologies.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time, #4:
George Soros is often cited as the greatest contrarian investor of all time. His conviction in ultra-risky investments that largely are frowned upon by others in the market has been the driving force behind his multi-billion dollar fortune.
Soros’s fame as a contrarian investor was secured by one of his first and biggest bets to date. The investor borrowed billions of dollars in British pounds and immediately converted them to German marks in order to short the British economy. This move tipped the British market just over the edge, and within hours, the pound had plummeted in value. Soros profited nearly $2 billion in a single day and earned the nickname “the man who broke the Bank of England.”
This event, alongside his prediction of the 2008 market crash and several other bold short positions, secures Soros’s spot as one of the greatest investors of all time.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time, #3:
Benjamin Graham was a British-born American investor famous for mentoring Warren Buffett. He is known in investing circles as the “father of value investing” and authored some of the most important investment books written to date: “Security Analysis” with David Dodd and “The Intelligent Investor.”
Graham created a wealth of investing knowledge and spread it among his many loyal disciples. In addition to Warren Buffett, Benjamin Graham also mentored Irving Kahn and Sir John Templeton among other wildly successful investors.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time, #2:
Carl Icahn is the founder and controlling shareholder of Icahn Enterprises, a Sunny Isles Beach, Florida-based holding company invested in a wealth of smaller operations. Icahn is credited as being the first ever activist investor, using a strategy that entails purchasing enough shares of a company to have meaningful voting power and forcing changes intended to be beneficial to shareholders.
The strategy is now mainstream for large Wall Street hedge funds due to the early influence of Icahn. He also has been described as a “corporate raider” due to his hostile takeover and asset stripping of Trans World Airlines.
The 50 Greatest Investors of All Time, #1:
Warren Buffett is widely considered the greatest investor of all time, and much of his investment strategy relies on collecting dividend payments.
Buffett’s investing style favors consistent high-dividend payments over multiple years, viewing them as a massive “green flag” for a company — signaling a sustainable, profitable business model with the potential to reward shareholders in the long run. A huge amount of profit flowing into Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK_B) is from dividend investments. In 2021 alone, the company is expected to collect $3.8 billion in dividend distributions.
Berkshire Hathaway itself, however, has only ever paid a dividend to its shareholders once, and Buffett considers it a mistake to this day. The investor prefers to hold cash, believing it is more valuable in his hands to take advantage of reinvestment opportunities than paying distributions to his shareholders. Even though Buffett refuses to pay a dividend himself, so much of his success has relied on dividend income that we are proud to feature him on Dividend Investor as the greatest investor of all time.
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Jonathan Wolfgram is an investment analyst who writes website content at Eagle Financial Publications. He graduated from the University of Minnesota with Bachelor’s degrees in Finance and Philosophy. Jonathan writes for www.DividendInvestor.com and www.StockInvestor.com.