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Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change

You'll never guess who's ruling the hedge fund world

Top hedge fund bets... How'd they do?
Top hedge fund bets... How'd they do?

When it comes to hedge fund reporting, a great deal of ink is spilled covering the moves of highfliers like Third Point, Appaloosa, and Greenlight in the stock market.

But according to a recent survey, the real money on individual stock picking is being made by a host of less well-known funds that have managed to find investment gems even in battered sectors.

Whale Rock Capital Management, Matrix Capital Management, PAR Capital Management, Senator Investment Group, and Starboard Value appear to be the top stock pickers for the fourth quarter so far, according to regulatory filings and performance-based skill assessments conducted by Symmetric, a New York-based research firm.

In determining the current rankings, Symmetric also factored in the consistency of upside over one- and three-year periods, looking for hedge funds that showed impressive stock-investment results at a time when many of their peers were struggling to do so.

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

The lists of stocks involved came from the most recent 13-F regulatory filings, which reflected hedge-fund holdings as of Sept. 30. Symmetric then generated its fourth-quarter survey on the assumption that most of those stock positions were still intact in fund-manager portfolios—and on research showing that a typical long-short hedge fund's portfolio returns closely mirror the performance of the holdings in its most recent stock filing.

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Whale Rock, a Boston-based hedge fund that focuses on long-term investments in technology, media, and communications, was the top-performing money manager among more than 1,000 canvassed, according to Symmetric's analysis, benefiting from names like the data-security company Imperva, the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and the Chinese discount retailer Vipshop. Founded in 2006 by Alexander Sacerdote, a former Fidelity tech analyst who is now its chief executive and portfolio manager, Whale Rock manages some $850 million.

Matrix Capital Management, which was founded in Waltham, Massachusetts, by one-time Tiger Management partner David Goel in 1999, is the second-highest ranked hedge fund this quarter, according to the research, thanks to strong technology picks like organizational software maker Tableau, the human resources application provider Workday and the professional network LinkedIn.

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And PAR Capital management, founded by Paul Reeder, a former airline analyst, also in Boston, did well with two airlines,Alaska Air and Delta Air Lines, and Global Eagle Entertainment, a provider of information and entertainment services to air carriers.

Whale Rock declined to give details about its current portfolio, and Matrix and PAR officials did not respond to requests for comment.