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By that measure, the most successful activist investor is Nelson Peltz of the Trian Partners hedge fund.
Peltz has an amazing track record for getting tremendous returns out of the stocks he targets, although the payoff sometimes takes several years.
His greatest success has been with The Wendy's Co. (Nasdaq: WEN), which has enjoyed a stunning 97% gain since Peltz began engineering changes to the fast food chain in mid-2011.
And the strong performance of Wendy's is not just a one-time coincidence. When Peltz takes a pronounced interest in a company, double-digit gains almost always follow.
Here's how Peltz does it.
You Can Profit More from Nelson Peltz Than Other Activist Investors
While most stocks targeted by activist investors enjoy a price rise, it usually isn't terribly high.
Since most stocks that end up in the crosshairs of activist investors are underperformers, the greatest benefit for existing shareholders is that the trend is almost always reversed. Big gains, however, rarely follow.
But Nelson Peltz is the exception.
"I think it's because when Nelson Peltz takes a substantial position in a company, he treats it as if it is his own business," noted CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer recently. Cramer discovered Peltz's outstanding track record while doing research for a book.
Wendy's is but one example. Peltz was instrumental in getting the company to revamp its menu, remodel its restaurants, and refocus its marketing over the past few years. The result has been the 97% pop in the stock price, with a 75% increase coming in just the last year.
The Wendy's story isn't over. Earlier this month WEN said it expected 2014 earnings to come in between $0.34 and $0.36 a share – well above analysts' consensus expectations of $0.29.
Take a look at these other Nelson Peltz activist investing success stories: