Bill Ackman and Carl Icahn are famously on opposite sides of the Herbalife trade, but other hedge fund managers love bets made by both billionaires.
The largest total stock investment by hedge funds is in Icahn holding-company Icahn Enterprises, followed by Allergan, a large position for Ackman's Pershing Square Capital Management, according to a new analysis of about $1 trillion in assets managed by more than 250 hedge funds.
After Icahn and Allergan, the next largest hedge fund holdings were index fund Vanguard Emerging Markets, General Dynamics and Microsoft, according to an AlphaClone compilation of recently released "13F" public filing data at the end of the second quarter. AlphaClone manages an exchange-traded fund and other products that help retail investors mimic the publicly reported portfolios of private hedge fund managers.
The popularity of activist investing—whereby money managers take stakes in companies and then push them to make changes in hopes of increasing their value—comes as Icahn touted the strategy.
"I believe that the kind of shareholder activism that IEP practices has been extremely successful because we seek to bring true corporate democracy to the companies we are involved with through exercising our rights as shareholders to hold CEOs accountable and change unproductive management that needs to be changed," Icahn wrote in a recent published note.
"I believe that America needs this to correct the economic course we are on and push back against the approaching storm clouds resulting from the many problems we face today, including a major asset bubble that continues to grow."