The investment world is full of Buffett disciples, and there is no lack of traders who aspire to follow in the Oracle of Omaha's footsteps. For proof, head to a Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting, upon which thousands of Buffett fanatics descend each year.
And it's not just amateurs and value investing fanatics who look up to the Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) - Get Report (BRK.B) - Get Report head. Some of the best names on Wall Street have drawn comparisons to him as well.
Edward Lampert, the founder of ESL Investments and current CEO of Sears Holdings (SHLD) , was pegged the next Buffett by Bloomberg in 2004. "Like the 74-year-old Buffett, Lampert has built his success on some of the least sexy investments around," reporters Robert Berner and Susann Rutledge wrote.
Just over a decade later in 2015, Forbes identified its own "baby Buffett": Pershing Square manager Bill Ackman. Antoine Gara made the case that Howard Hughes (HHC) - Get Report , of which Ackman owns 13% and is chairman of the board of directors, is poised to become the next Berkshire. "He's taking a page from Buffett, who focused on trades until he found a publicly traded textile company named Berkshire Hathaway and then began swallowing businesses and stashing them under it," Gara wrote.
Many investors have been candid about their Buffett aspirations and the billionaire's influence on the way they trade. Here is a look at three Oracle of Omaha disciples, who they are and where they are investing.
Whitney Tilson, who runs New York-based hedge fund Kase Capital, has made a name for himself shorting hardwood flooring manufacturer Lumber Liquidators (LL) - Get Report since publicly announcing the position in 2013 -- a move that Buffett, who Tilson credits as one of his biggest inspirations, might not approve of.
"Charlie and I have both talked about it, we probably had a hundred of ideas of things that would be good short sales," Buffett said a 2012 interview with the New York Times. "Probably 95% of them at least turned out to be, and I don't' think we would have made a dime out of it if we had been engaged in that activity. It's too difficult."
Tilson may not mirror Buffett's aversion to shorts, but he believes himself to be like him in many other ways. He told TheStreet in March that the influence of Buffett and his Berkshire Hathaway partner Charlie Munger is "so overwhelmingly prominent" no one else comes close.
"I'd guess fewer than 5% of the investors in the market practice the teachings of Buffett and Munger. The reason is that as logical as sensible as it is to try and buy dollar bills for 50 cents, human beings I think are hard-wired to be very emotional when it comes to financial decisions -- to try and get rich quickly and to try and predict macro events like interest rates or whether a company's going to beat its quarterly numbers, its whisper number by a penny -- things like that. So it's simple in concept-value investing-but difficult in practice," Tilson said.
Tilson's Buffett-inspired portfolio at Kase Capital is comprised of 15 holdings as of his most recent 13F filing, corresponding to the end of the second quarter of 2015.
Tilson's top two holdings, Howard Hughesand Platform Specialty Products (PAH) - Get Report , make him look more like Ackman than he does Buffett -- the Pershing Square head has stakes in both. Tilson and Ackman also overlap on Air Products and Chemicals (APD) - Get Report .
Tilson also has a number of holdings in the airline sector -- specifically, JetBlue Airways (JBLU) - Get Report , Delta (DAL) - Get Report and American Airlines Group (AAL) - Get Report -- and apparently doesn't share Buffett's aversion to the industry. He swore off airline investing after losing $350 million by purchasing debt in USAir Group in 1989. "Now if I get the urge to invest in airlines, I call an 800 number, and I say: 'Hello, my name is Warren, and I'm an air-o-holic,'" he has said in the past.
So where does Tilson coincide with Buffett? He has a position in Goldman Sachs (GS) - Get Report , in which Buffett maneuvered to get a major stake by investing $5 billion in the financial giant in the midst of the financial crisis.
Tilson has also invested in Berkshire Hathaway and as of June 30 has a $3.2 million stake in the conglomerate. He put together a presentation on Berkshire in August, making the argument that the stock has a 42% upside over the next year. "Berkshire has everything I look for in a stock: it's safe, cheap and growing at a healthy rate," he wrote.
Sardar Biglari has emulated Buffett throughout his young but intriguing investment career. His holding company, Biglari Holdings (BH) - Get Report , even seems to pay homage to Berkshire Hathaway with its ticker: BH. According to a QSRprofile on him, Biglari was inspired to become an investor after reading a book about Buffett and discovering the two share the same birthday, and his office is said to have Buffett-signed memorabilia.
Biglari, an Iranian immigrant, rose to fame when in 2008 he took over food chain Steak 'n Shake, eventually becoming the company's chief executive and consolidating it with his other businesses under Biglari Holdings. The list of other entities under the holding company's umbrella includes restaurant chain Western Sizzlin' and men's magazine Maxim.
Like Buffett, Biglari hosts annual shareholders meetings and writes yearly letters to investors. "We are developing a multi-industry company designed to amalgamate multiple streams of cash," he wrote in his 2014 letter. "Along with permanent capital, significant holdings in investments, and maximum flexibility in capital allocation, we are positioning ourselves with a significant competitive advantage. In essence, we are building Biglari Holdings to endure."
Biglari may prove a bit more of a controversial character than Buffett. In July, he raised eyebrows when he increased his control over the company through a tender offer made by an investment vehicle he controls just months after overcoming a proxy battle with Minneapolis hedge fund Groveland Capital.
Like Berkshire, Biglari Holdings has an investment arm, and as of the end of the second quarter, its Biglari Capital has seven positions listed in its $887.6 million public equity portfolio.
Cracker Barrel (CBRL) - Get Report is the firm's top holding, with 4.7 million shares valued at $706.7 million as of June 30. Biglari has taken an activist approach to the company and has made a handful of unsuccessful bids to join its board.
Biglari Capital's number two stake is in Biglari Holdings, worth $151.3 million as of June 30, followed by Air T (AIRT) - Get Report , Insignia Systems (ISIG) - Get Report , Fastenal (FAST) - Get Report and CCA Industries (CAW) - Get Report .
As for the Buffett connection, Biglari Capital holds two Berkshire Hathaway class A shares, worth $410,000 as of June 30.
Indian-born Mohnish Pabrai makes no secret of the fact that his investment career has been extremely influenced by Buffett, Munger and the value investing creed.
"If there wasn't a Warren Buffett, there wouldn't be a Pabrai Funds and there certainly wouldn't be this book," he wrote in his 2007 book The Dhandho Investor: The Low-Risk Value Method to High Returns. "It is hard for me to overstate the influence Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger have had on my thinking."
Pabrai launched Pabrai Investment Funds in 1999 and has employed a fairly simple -- but effective -- strategy since. "At Pabrai Funds, the ideal scenario is to buy a good business at a cheap price. That's very hard to always do. If we can't find enough of those, we go to buying fair businesses at a cheap price," he said in an interview with Investor Guide.
A long-only investor, Pabrai doesn't charge the typical hedge fund fees of 2% management and 20% performance. Instead, he charges 25% on gains made over 6%.
Forbesreported in 2013 that Pabrai's equity fund had returned 517% cumulative net to investors since 2000. In a late 2014 interview with Barron's, Pabrai admitted the subsequent year had been a slow one. "I think it is an irrelevant data point. There is nothing intelligent that one can say about short periods like 10 months. I never make investments with any thought to what will happen in a few months or even a year," he said.
Pabrai's current public equity portfolio, corresponding to the end of the second quarter of 2015, is comprised of just seven positions valued at $474.6 million.
His top holding is Fiat Chrysler (FCAU) - Get Report , with 13.8 million shares worth $200.5 million. His second biggest stake is in General Motors (GM) - Get Report , with 6.0 million shares valued at $95.5 million, and one that he has in common with Buffett.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held TK positions in the stocks mentioned.