Nick Adams of Boston-based Wellington Management oversees a hedge fund that is reported to have produced gains of 40 percent a year over the past 10 years. Small investors can also avail themselves of Adams' skills through First Financial Fund Inc., a fund that Adams has managed since it was launched in 1986.

Since May of that year, First Financial has earned an average return of 20% annually for a total return of 3,431%. S&P earned an impressive 685% over the same timeframe. Lipper Inc touts it as the best performing closed-end fund over the past five years.

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