The best of all time! This is a difficult question to ask people about an industry that has the memory-span of a fly. I spent years reading books by Paul Erdman, Ben Graham, Peter Lynch and Charles MacKay – about Tulip Bubbles and names like Boesky and Diamond, before I decided that I wanted to work in the Investment Industry. Here are some of my favorite investors:
1. Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett has become the richest man in the world through his investment holding company Berkshire Hathaway. The Sage of Omaha has been a long term investor in companies with solid brands. Known for his frugality and honesty, his statements each year at the Berkshire AGM are eagerly anticipated. In Bull Markets people say he is out of fashion. In Bear Markets they heed his every word.
2. Benjamin Graham
Ben Graham, “the Godfather of Investing”, wrote two seminal books on Value Investing: “Security Analysis” and “The Intelligent Investor”. Graham, who was earning $1 million in 1914, lost and remade a fortune in the Depression. Buffett attended his classes at Columbia University and worked for him at Graham-Newmann.
3. James Hanson & Gordon White
James Hanson & Gordon White led Hanson plc to become the most successful corporate raiders in the 1980s, culminating in the takeover of Imperial Tobacco. Their empire extended from brands like Ever Ready batteries to The London Brick Company. Gordon White is probably the basis for character Sir Larry Wildman, who is Gekko’s rival, in the film “Wall Street.”
4. James Goldsmith
Corporate Raider James Goldsmith was before his time, establishing Mothercare and Grand Union and holding brands through his Cavenham Foods plc, before turning private firm Cavenham Forest Industries into one of the world’s largest timberland holders. He sold out his investments before the October Crash in 1987.
5. Peter Lynch
Peter Lynch was made head of Fidelity’s Magellan Fund in 1977. When he started the fund was worth $18 million. When he finished managing the fund in 1990, it was worth $14 billion. Lynch wrote the well-known book “One Up on Wall Street”, where he coined the phrase 10 bagger.
6. John Templeton
John Templeton pioneered Global Mutual Fund investing as far back as the 1950s and became a billionaire in the process. He used a fundamental stock selection approach. The “Templeton Growth Fund” remains synonymous with his name.
7. Howard Hughes
Howard Hughes mysterious end unfortunately overshadows the brilliance and diversity of his investment skills and own ideas, which included hugely successful ventures in the film making, engineering, airlines, aerospace and medical industries.
8. Jesse Livermore
In his day Jesse Livermore was described by Time Magazine as the most fabulous living US share trader. Many traders today know him from the book “Reminiscences of a Stock Market Operator”, which is filled with advice on trading, e.g. “Never hold onto a losing position!” Livermore’s greatest profits were made in 1929, when he shorted the market during the Great Crash, earning him $100 million.
9. George Soros
Georg Soros and Jim Rogers established the Quantum Fund in 1970. The Fund returned 42.6% per annum until 1980. Soros later became “the Man who broke the Bank of England ” after he short-sold the British pound and forced the currency out of the ERM on 16th September 1992 earning $1 billion in the process.
10. Joe Kennedy Snr.
Joe Kennedy became a stock market millionaire in the 1920s, before shorting the market during the 1929 Crash. In 1912 aged 25, he bought a bank to become the youngest bank president in America. He made a fortune through buying depressed Real Estate, making films, owning Hollywood movie studios and controlling a chain of Theatres to get his films to market.
Each of the above has something that has made them famous or infamous. Some of them have made a difference to my own approach to investment, which I suppose is the greatest compliment. What I do like about this list, is that it covers 100 years. If the half of these people are still known in 50 years time then it will not be a bad list.