BALTIMORE ( Stockpickr) -- It's one thing to follow the moves of some of the world's most successful investors -- but how about the smartest? According to the Financial Times, Jim Simons is just that. The founder of hedge fund manager Renaissance Technologies, Simons earned the moniker of world's smartest billionaire while generating legendary returns at its off Wall Street campus.

Renaissance Technologies isn't like most Wall Street firms because it doesn't hire Wall Street types; only scientists need apply. Simons himself holds a Ph.D. in mathematics and was the chairman of Stony Brook University's math department until 1978 when he entered the investing world full time. Today, around a third of Renaissance's employees are Ph.D.s whose expertise ranges from astronomy to physics.

It's a system that's worked well for the firm, which boasts a 2,478% cumulative return since 1999.

Here's a look at some of the new positions Renaissance Technologies added to its portfolio last quarter.
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It's hard to summarize General Electric's ( GE) business in a single sentence: From household appliances to jet engines to media networks, this behemoth $150 billion stock is a far cry from the firm Thomas Edison created in the late 1800s. Right now, GE has some interesting prospects for investors who are willing to see past the GE Capital and NBC Universal headlines.

In the fallout from the credit crunch, GE Capital Services continues to be hit hard by high exposure to commercial real estate and weaker elements of consumer credit. But the division's troubles are buffeted by strong diversification across GE's other lines, and a recovering consumer credit market should start applying the brakes to write-offs.

Ultimately, GE's more-exciting brands should regain the limelight in 2010. Renaissance is long the stock, with a new $152.25 million stake in shares added as of the firm's last quarterly filing.

Life science stock Millipore ( MIL) is another stock that Renaissance Technologies picked up in the last quarter, in the form of an $81 million stake. Millipore's products are primarily used by scientists in biotech and pharmaceutical companies, academia and research institutions. With the pharmaceutical industry plagued by patent expirations in the coming years, the battle for R&D spending is on -- a battle that Millipore should be a major beneficiary of.

High acquisition and switching costs give Millipore a strong enough competitive advantage that the firm has consistently generated double-digit profit margins. And those factors have ensured that the company scoops up recurring revenues through the sale of consumables used in the research process.

Right now foreign currency risks are high for Millipore's shareholders. Because the company derives nearly 70% of revenue overseas, volatile currency situations in Europe (and a strengthening dollar, for that matter) don't bode well. That said, as the euro starts to stabilize on hopes that PIIGS concerns can be quelled, the opportunity exists for Millipore to get higher prices in the EU once again.
Who Else Owns Millipore?

EMC Corporation ( EMC) is a major provider of IT infrastructure that, unlike many of its competitors, was able to buck the recessionary trends of 2008 and keep its financial performance strong. That's thanks in large part to a strong sales team and existing lucrative contracts. Innovation also played a big role; EMC's technologies have kept customers dependent on the firm to deliver cost-saving computing solutions.

With buzzwords such as "cloud computing" and "virtualization" big in IT right now, EMC is one of the league leaders. The company owns an 85% stake in virtualization expert VMWare ( VMW), for example, a $26 billion stock that's already up 53% year-to-date. Expect future acquisitions fueled by EMC's more than $6 billion cash reserves.

Renaissance Technologies took a $66.7 million position in the stock last quarter.

One nonscientific stock that Renaissance took a sizable stake in recently is Dr Pepper Snapple Group ( DPS), the $10 billion beverage firm that owns some of the biggest brand names in the noncola segment of the market. While the company is still leaps and bounds behind Coke ( KO) and Pepsi ( PEP) in terms of market share, it's blown both stocks out of the water this year in terms of performance; shares of DPS are up more than 34% year-to-date. Renaissance owns a $60.6 million position in the stock.

The decision to avoid head-to-head cola competition with the behemoths was a smart move for Dr Pepper Snapple -- and teaming up with the competition could prove to be even smarter. The firm announced last month that it was paying Coke $715 million in exchange for access to Coca-Cola's unmatched distribution network. Dr Pepper penned a similar deal with Pepsi in the past, giving the No. 3 beverage player significantly more-efficient sales capabilities going forward.

And with sizable exposure to the fast-growing sparkling drink segment of the beverage market, those improved distribution channels could pave the way to significant margin growth once the pain of the initial payments wears off. Watch this stock closely for the rest of the year.
Who Else Owns Dr Pepper?

To see the rest of Renaissance Technologies' plays, check out the Renaissance Technologies Portfolio on Stockpickr.

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Jonas Elmerraji is the editor and portfolio manager of the Rhino Stock Report, a free investment advisory that returned 15% in 2008. He is a contributor to numerous financial outlets, including Forbes and Investopedia, and has been featured in Investor's Business Daily, in Consumer's Digest and on MSNBC.com.

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