Top 5 Stock Market Investors of All Time cover 2

Top 5 Stock Market Investors of All Time!

A hand-picked list of the top 5 stock market investors in the world: Its been over 4 centuries since the inception of the world’s first stock exchange in Amsterdam. Since then there have been many investors- some known for their success and others for their ability to loose their massive wealth.

The list below includes investors that struggled through poverty, escaped the Nazi’s and even those that worked closely with spy agencies during the Cold War. An extremely interesting list to go through and even better footsteps to follow. Today we bring to you a comprehensive list of the top 5 investors of all time.

Top 5 Stock Market Investors of All-time!

5. Benjamin Graham

There are very few investors who have not only succeeded in their investment pursuits but also have successfully influenced multiple generations of investors at the same time. Any investor on this list cannot deny being influenced by Benjamin Graham.

Benjamin Graham was born to Jewish parents in England in the year 1894. Despite experiencing poverty first hand he graduated from Columbia University on a scholarship and went on to work in Wall Street. By the age of 25, Graham was earning $500,000 annually in the 1920s.

Benjamin Graham

— His transition into an Investment Guru 

But he soon lost almost all of his investments during the stock market crash of 1929. It was after this that Graham took the time to put the observations he made for investing in a book called Security Analysis while working as a lecturer at the Columbia Business School. It was in this book that Graham brought forward the concept of value investing, where investments are made based on the intrinsic value of the stock and not that of the market price. 

But it was Grahams’ next book “The Intelligent Investor’ which is considered mandatory in every investors’ home. It was in this book that he introduced Mr. Market. Mr. Market shows up at every investors’ door giving them an option to buy or sell. But Mr. Market is often irrational and his emotions are run by greed and fear. Graham emphasized that i is necessary for every investor to do their own research and not depend on Mr.Market. According to him, a successful investor makes Mr. Market his servant and not his friend.

— Notable Investments

Grahams’ most notable investments include his 50% purchase of GEICO in 1948 for $712,000. This position grew to $ 400 million by 1972. His teachings and work inspired many notable investors like Warren Buffet, Irving Kahn, Walter Schloss, and Bill Ackman.

His book ‘ The Intelligent Investor’ is considered the bible for investing. Although it has been over 4 decades since Benjamin Graham passed away, his contributions still remain relevant and will continue to do so for the years to come.

4. David Swensen

Yale University, an Ivy League college, the third-oldest institution of higher education in the US was founded in 1701. Its alumni list includes 5 US presidents. Ever considered who is the highest-paid at Yale? Is it the University President Peter Salovey who is paid $1.4 million in 2015. The answer is ‘No’. The highest-paid employee at the school is its Cheif Investment Officer David Swensen who makes over $4 million annually.

David Swensen

— Early Career

Swensen himself is an alumnus of Yale and pursued a Ph.D. in economics. Before joining Yale as a Fund Manager, Swensen spent 6 years working at Wall Street. Advising the Carnegie Corporation, the NYSE, and also worked for the Salomon and Lehman Brothers. It was in 1985 that Swensen received the offer to manage Yale’s Endowment Fund which was worth $1 billion. Swensen was only 31 years old at the time, had no experience in portfolio management, and taking the job would mean taking an 80% pay cut. Suicide if you would ask anyone at the time.

Swensen, however, took the job. It was here that he along with Dean Takahashi invented the Yale theory. Swensen succeeded in implementing the theory and now is commonly known as the Endowment Model.

— The Endowment Fund

One may think that Swensen hit the lottery by managing the Yale fund. But to provide returns of the scale he did is nothing short of herculean. Especially due to the nature of the fund was made up of donations received by the university and hence require secure investments. The fund is also used to provide scholarships. All this on top of student protests over the choice of investments made that do not fall in line with the changing social causes. This forced Swensen to move away from investing in the companies that have a large carbon footprint. 

As of 2019, the endowment fund was worth $29.4 billion. Second to Harward whose endowment fund is worth $39.2billion. According to former Yale President, Richard Lenin Swensens contribution to Yale is greater than the sum of all the donations made in more than two decades.

3. Jim Simons

Jim Harris Simmons was known to be gifted in mathematics from a very early age. He joined MIT at the age of 17 and went on to receive his Ph.D. in mathematics from Berkely at the age of 23. 

— Early Career

Jim Simons

He began working at the Institute of Defence Analysis, which was a branch of the NSA in the US. It was set to break Russian codes during the cold war. Simons states that he loved the job because it paid well and he was allowed to work on his personal math projects for half of the time. The work he did here remain confidential.

He, however, was fired after he expressed his views against the Vietnam War in an interview. He later went on to work at Stony Brooke University. Jim Simmons is famous not only in the world of investing but is also a highly acclaimed mathematician. He is noted for the Chern-Simons form which contributed to the development of string theory. 

— Transition into an Investment Manager

Jim Simons investment advisor

Jim Simons’s first investment was from the amount he received at his wedding in 1959. He invested this in stocks but found it boring and later invested it in Soy-beans. It was only in the 1970s that Simons began taking investing and trading seriously. He took out his investments from his friends firm in Columbia and began trading with foreign currencies. He founded his own hedge fund Rennaissance Technologies and decided to crack the market y applying his mathematical skills here. Due to this reason, both he and his fund are called Quantum Investors. 

His fund did not make good returns which led to him closing it for a year in order to figure out what went wrong and to restrategize. After opening again the Medallion fund went on to become to most successful hedge fund of all time. The fund gave a staggering 66% per annum returns and a net return of 39.1% after the huge investor fees. This made the Simons a billionaire and currently has a net worth of $21.6 billion according to Forbes.

Even though the strategy used has been released in a book all employees are made to sign an NDA agreement. In addition, they are also asked to sign a non compete agreement later on in order to keep the means used to achieve these returns within the company.

2. George Soros

Soros was born in the 1930s to a Hungarian Jew family. A terrible time for the Jews in Europe. His teens were spent escaping persecution by the Nazi’s during WW2. His family did this by changing their names from Shwartz to Soros and by masquerading as Christians. Soros went on to study at the London School of Economics after which he did several odd jobs before entering Wall Street.

— The man who broke the Bank of England

George Soros

In 1970, Soros founded Soros Management where he managed the Soros fund. But it was only on September 16, 1992, that Soros rose to fame. For months leading up to this date, Soros built a huge sort position of 10 billion Pounds. This day was termed as Black Wednesday in the UK. Soros, on the other hand, made a profit of $1 billion on a single day. This came at a cost of 3.4 billion pounds to the Bank of England. Hereafter he was known as the man who broke the bank of England. 

— Is Soros still infamous today?

In recent times too, unfortunately, Soros is known for all the wrong reasons. He is often targeted by the rightwing politicians and has often been the center of many conspiracy theories. This has been particularly because of his economical support to the Left and his charitable organization ‘Open Society’.

The Open Society has been accused multiple times of attempting to topple governments that oppose illegal immigration and the influx of Muslim refugees in Europe. Soros, however, claims that he founded the society to ensure the building of vibrant and tolerant democracies. Soros and his NPO are currently banned in 6 countries.

1. Warren Buffett

The brilliant track record and wealth that Warren Buffet amassed from investing gives him the number one spot undisputably.

Warren Buffet was born in 1930 to a future US Congressman, Howard Buffet. Despite this Buffet spent his childhood in poverty and so the importance of money was instilled in him at a very young age. This drove him to set the aim of becoming a millionaire by the age of 30 or jumping off the tallest building in Omaha. 

— Early Career

young warren buffett

The entrepreneurship spark and his obsession with numbers were visible in him from a very young age. He adopted a paper route when young and learned the benefits of diversification as he realized that he could make more money by selling magazines as well and made $175 a month from this.

Apart from this Buffet sold CocaCola, chewing gum, golf ball, stamps, and also worked at his grandfathers grocery when young. Buffets’ infatuation with numbers got him interested in the stock market and made the first investment at the age of 11. Warren Buffet filed his first tax return at the age of 14. At around the same time he also bought a farm. Buffet went on to buy 3 shares of the Citi Service for himself.

Although Harward would have been his first choice Buffet was rejected. He then went on to study at Columbia Business School because one of the investing greats Benjamin Graham taught there. After graduating he went and achieved one of his most prized possessions a diploma for a course in Public Speaking under the legendary Dale Carnegie. Warren Buffet then went on to work under Benjamin Graham under whom he grew as an investor.

Warren Buffet retired at the age of 26 after buying a house and having $174,000 in savings. But his dream of becoming a millionnaire brought him out of retirement. 

— The Berkshire Hathaway Story

His investment strategy in the initial days included Cigarette Butt Investing. In 1962 this strategy led him to invest in a textile manufacturing firm called Berkshire Hathaway. He held the shares for 3 years but later came to terms that this was the worst investment he ever made. In 1964 the company made him a tender offer at $11.50 per share.

However, when Buffet received the offer in writing 3 weeks later the price was quoted at $11.375 per share. This $0,125 reduction angered him and he bought Berkshire Hathaway and immediately fired its owner Seabury Stanton. But after this, he realized that the business would not improve. He shut down the core business of textiles in 1967 and expanded into the insurance industry and investing. 

Warren Buffett

Some of the other notable investments by Buffet include Washington Post, Exxon, Geico, and CocaCola. In 1979, Warren Buffet had a net worth of $620 million due to Berkshire Hathaway. He then set a new goal of becoming a billionaire. Buffet reached the goal when the shares of Berkshire Hathaway closed at $7175 on May 29th, 1990. As of 2020, has a net worth of $69.6 billion.  In the world of investing Warren Buffet is nothing short of a rock star.

becoming warren buffett

Becoming Warren Buffett – 2017 HBO Documentary [Video]

Becoming Warren Buffett – 2017 HBO Documentary [Video]

Warren Buffett, also known as the ‘Oracle of Omaha’ is a popular name in the investing world.

He is an American business magnate, investor, speaker and philanthropist who serves as the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. Warren Buffett is considered the greatest investor of all time. As of June 2018, he is the third richest person on the world with a net worth of over $88.5 billion

Warren Buffett was born on 30th August 1920, in Omaha, Nebraska. He made his first stock investment as an age of eleven. Later, he attended Columbia Business School as a graduate where he learned the philosophies of Value Investing through his mentor- Benjamin Graham, the father of value investing. In 1959, Warren Buffett created his Buffett Partnership after meeting Charlie Munger.

In 1962, Warren Buffett started buying stocks in a textile manufacturing firm called Berkshire Hathaway On May 10, 1965 Warren Buffett, through his investment partnership, took over the management and control of Berkshire Hathaway. Buffett’s partnership firm had accumulated about 49% of the shares of Berkshire.

As of today, Berkshire Hathaway is the third largest public company in the world, the ninth largest conglomerate by revenue and the largest financial services company by revenue in the world.

Becoming Warren Buffett – 2017 HBO Documentary

In 2017, HBO released a documentary on Becoming Warren Buffett, a co-production of HBO and Kunhardt Films; directed by Peter Kunhardt; produced by Teddy Kunhardt and George Kunhardt.

Here’s the video on how Warren Buffett became the greatest investor in the world –>

(Credits: Advexon TV)

Also read:

Why Warren Buffet Suggests- ‘Price Is What You Pay, Value Is What You Get’?

Why Warren Buffet Suggests- ‘Price Is What You Pay, Value Is What You Get’?

Why Warren Buffet Suggests- ‘Price is what you pay, value is what you get’?

In the 2008 letter to the Berkshire Hathaway’s shareholders, Warren Buffett wrote:

“Long ago, Ben Graham taught me that ‘Price is what you pay; value is what you get.’ Whether we’re talking about socks or stocks, I like buying quality merchandise when it is marked down.”
— Warren Buffett (Source)

In this post, we are going to discuss what Warren Buffett really mean by highlighting- “Price is what you pay, value is what you get” in his letter to the shareholders.

Price And Value:

Both price and value are the two sides of the same coin. Understanding the difference between price and value is the core principle of value investing.

Let’s explore the difference between price and value with the help of a simple example.

Suppose you are planning to buy a new phone and hence checking the prices of few phones on Amazon. There’s one phone that you really like- OnePlus 5T (Midnight Black 6GB RAM + 64GB memory).

oneplus 5t cover

Yesterday, the price of this phone on Amazon was Rs 30,599. However, today when you checked, the price has increased to Rs 32,999.

What really happened here?

With the change in the price, what can you say about the quality of the phone? Did it change overnight too? Is the phone still 6GB RAM + 64GB memory or did it increased just because the price increased from yesterday?

The quality is same. The only thing that changed is the amount of money you need to pay for it. Same value at a higher price.

Now, similar things happen in the stock price of companies. Although the quality does not change every second, however, the price does. That’s why, whenever you are purchasing any stock, you should remember that-

“Price is what you pay, and value is what you get!!”

Three types of value that you should know:

Whether you are purchasing a phone or stocks, there are three types of valuing things that you should know:

  1. Relative value
  2. Absolute value
  3. Perceived value

Let’s discuss each value type one-by-one.

1. Relative value:

Relative value is the valuing how much the product is worth by comparing it with its competitors.

Here, the product or company’s worth is compared to its competitors or the other companies in the same industry.

For example, while renting flats- the landlords generally use relative valuation concept to fix the price for the flat. It’s not easy to correctly evaluate the price of rent. However, using relative value, the rent can be decided by considering what similar houses are asking for rent in the same area.

Similarly, coming back to the original example of purchasing a phone, you might use the same relative valuation approach here. You can look at the prices of different phones with the same configuration and then decide which one is selling at the best price.

The same logic applies to the share market. The valuation of the companies in the same industries can be compared. For example, the price to earnings (PE) ratio of Tata Motors can be compared to that of Ashok Leyland to find out which one is undervalued. Both of these companies are in the same automobile sector.

Also read: No-Nonsense way to use PE Ratio.

Nevertheless, an important point to notice here is that you should not compare just ‘two’ companies while finding an undervalued stock, instead, compare it with the industry average.

This is because while evaluating just two products, one expensive product can still be cheaper than other expensive product.

For example, iPhone 8 will definitely be cheaper than iPhone X. Does it mean that iPhone 8 is undervalued? No. If you compare it with the industry average, you can find that the iPhone is too expensive compared to similar phones with same configuration and quality.

iphone x cover

Quick Note: I’m not criticising apple phones here. I’m a die-hard fan of Steve jobs and appreciate Apple products. Nonetheless, I accept that iPhones are expensive. Moreover, this is the best example that I come up to explain this concept 😉

Similarly, while performing a relative valuation of stocks, do not compare just two stocks, but consider the industry average.

2. Absolute value:

This is a pretty straightforward method of valuation. Absolute value aims to find how much the company is truly worth by considering its intrinsic features.

For example, in order to find the absolute value of a company, you can evaluate how many assets it own like machines, pieces of equipment, cash, buildings etc and how much liabilities (like debt) the company has. However, absolute value may be a little difficult to find as it also considers intangible assets and future cash-flows.

There are different methods that you can use to find the absolute value of a company- dividend discount model, discounted cash flow model, residual income models, and asset-based models

Anyways, once the absolute value of a company is known, you can easily find out whether is under or overvalued. If the company is trading at a market value below its intrinsic value, then it is undervalued or cheap. On the other hand, if the market value is above its intrinsic value, then the company is over-valued or expensive.

Also read: What are Multi-Bagger Stocks? And How to Find Them?

3. Perceived Value:

This is the third valuation method and can be considered a little dangerous. Here, the value of the object depends on what the people assign to it in mind.

The perceived value is completely unrelated to the absolute value.

For example, the value an art or painting totally depends on how much you will perceive it in your mind.

mona-lisa painting

Here, it might have cost a total of just Rs 500 (absolute value) for the Artist to make it. However, some people may be ready to pay Rs 1,00,000 to buy that painting and the others might pay Rs 50,00,000. It totally depends on the perception of the buyer.

The most common example of perceived value:

Let me give you a more clear example of the perceived value that you can see in the day to day life. Let’s say you want to sell your old bike on OLX.

Now, although you can quote a price for your bike, however, the selling price will totally depend on the perception of the buyer. You might convince people to pay high, however, the bargain depends on how much the buyer wants to pay. Despite having the same quality, different people will quote a different price for your price.

Overall, the perceived value of the bike will be the price that the person will be willing to pay.

Stock price reflects perception.

The stock market also works on the perceived value. Here’s an amazing quote by Seth Klarman regarding the stock prices:

“… security prices reflect investor’s perception of reality and not necessarily reality itself.”
— Seth Klarman

The Perceived value is used a lot in growth stocks, where the company is growing at a fast pace compared to its competitors and industry. That’s why investors are ready to pay a high price for those stocks.

Also read: Growth Stocks vs Value stocks – A logical Comparison

Moreover, many a time, these perceived values of the company are influenced a lot by the analyst’s recommendations, market news or catalyst. As the underlying company remains the same, it doesn’t make much sense to overpay. Whether you pay high or low for the company, the value won’t change.

Also read: 11 Must-Know Catalysts That Can Move The Share Price.

That’s why, Warren Buffett suggests- ‘Price is what you pay, value is what you get’

(Source: CNBC)


There are three types of value that every stock investor should know:

  • Relative value: It is the valuing how much the product is worth by comparing it with its competitors.
  • Absolute Value: Here the object is value based on its intrinsic features.
  • Perceived Value: It depends on the value assigned by the buyer in his mind.

Moreover, the stock price of a company reflects perception. Here, the price and value are different and most of the time unrelated to the share market.

Anyways, this is true only for the short run. Over the long period of time, the price will approach the value. That’s why if you have a stock when it was undervalued and have the patience to hold it for a long duration, then it certainly will reach its true value in future and give you good returns.

Final tip, do not overpay if you can get the same value at a cheaper price.

That’s all. I hope this post is useful to you. Happy Investing.

New to stocks? Want to learn how to select good stocks for long-term investment? Check out my amazing online course: HOW TO PICK WINNING PICKS? The course is currently available at a discount.

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