BOSTON, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Hedge funds managers who bet on stocks scored some of the industry's biggest gains in 2017, when equity markets galloped past a series of critical milestones, according to a new list of the top 20 all-time performers.
The annual list, released on Sunday, shows Steve Mandel's Lone Pine Capital, John Armitage's Egerton Capital, Andreas Halvorsen's Viking Global Investors and Chris Hohn's TCI Fund Management as last year's best performers.
Each of the four stock-focused funds earned between $3.5 billion and $5.0 billion, according to list compiler LCH Investments, the worlds oldest fund of hedge funds.
Two of 2017's strongest funds were newcomers to the list. Egerton ranked 18th, having earned $14.7 billion since its inception in 1995, while TCI came in at No. 20 with $14.2 billion in gains since 2004.
"The greatest investment opportunities in 2017 were in the rising equity markets, and the best managers seized on that," said LCH Chairman Rick Sopher.
Two Sigma Investments dropped off after making the list for the first time in 2016, when funds using computer programs to trade posted strong returns. Paul Tudor Jones' Tudor Investment Corp, which recently announced a reorganization and focuses mostly on macro investments, including bets on currencies, bonds and commodities, also fell from the chart.
There was little change at the very top of the list. Ray Dalio's Bridgewater Associates, the world's biggest hedge fund, retained its No. 1 spot, and George Soros' Soros Fund Management stayed in second place. Both firms bet on stocks, bonds and currencies.
Bridgewater posted only small gains last year, raising the total to $49.7 billion since its 1975 introduction. Soros gained $43.9 billion since it began in 1973, with $2.1 billion generated in 2017.
Ken Griffin's Citadel, which joined the list in 2016, rose to No. 3 from No. 5, having earned $28.6 billion since it began in 1990.
The biggest loss came at Caxton, founded by Bruce Kovner and now run by Andrew Law. The macro-oriented firm lost $1.1 billion in 2017 and dropped to No. 19 from 17.
After years of sluggish returns and high fees put many investors off hedge funds, some came back in 2017, adding a total of $9.8 billion in new money after taking out $70 billion in 2016, data from Hedge Fund Research shows. (Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)