The 20 Best-Performing Stocks of the Last Decade
Hindsight is 20/20. It can be incredibly difficult to pick the “next big stock” in the moment, but looking back gives us clarity on where we could have reaped the highest rewards. While some of the decade’s chart-toppers—like Netflix and Amazon—are household names, other stocks may come as a surprise.
Today’s visualization reveals the best-performing stocks over the last 10 years, and shows how much an initial $100 investment would be worth today.
To compile the list, MarketWatch reviewed the current S&P 500 constituents and excluded any stocks that have traded in their present form for less than 10 years. The remaining companies were sorted based on their total return, with reinvested dividends, from December 31, 2009 to December 5, 2019.
So, which stocks come out on top? Here’s a full list of the top 20, organized by ranking:
|Rank||Company||Ticker||Final Value of $100 Investment||S&P 500 Sector|
|1||Netflix Inc.||NASDAQ: NFLX||$3,867||Communication Services|
|2||MarketAxess Holdings Inc.||NASDAQ: MKTX||$3,282||Financials|
|3||Abiomed Inc.||NASDAQ: ABMD||$2,221||Health Care|
|4||TransDigm Group Inc.||NYSE: TDG||$2,165||Industrials|
|5||Broadcom Inc.||NASDAQ: AVGO||$2,019||Information Technology|
|6||Align Technology Inc.||NASDAQ: ALGN||$1,558||Health Care|
|7||United Rentals Inc.||NYSE: URI||$1,534||Industrials|
|8||Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc.||NASDAQ: REGN||$1,530||Health Care|
|9||Ulta Beauty Inc.||NASDAQ: ULTA||$1,333||Consumer Discretionary|
|10||Amazon.com Inc.||NASDAQ: AMZN||$1,309||Consumer Discretionary|
|11||Extra Space Storage Inc.||NYSE: EXR||$1,266||Real Estate|
|12||Constellation Brands Inc. Class A||NYSE: STZ||$1,224||Consumer Staples|
|13||Nvidia Corp.||NASDAQ: NVDA||$1,217||Information Technology|
|14||Take-Two Interactive Software Inc.||NASDAQ: TTWO||$1,214||Information Technology|
|15||Ross Stores Inc.||NASDAQ: ROST||$1,181||Consumer Discretionary|
|16||Fortinet Inc.||NASDAQ: FTNT||$1,179||Information Technology|
|17||Mastercard Inc. Class A||NYSE: MA||$1,178||Information Technology|
|18||Charter Communications Inc. Class A||NASDAQ: CHTR||$1,177||Communication Services|
|19||O'Reilly Automotive Inc.||NASDAQ: ORLY||$1,160||Consumer Discretionary|
|20||Cintas Corp.||NASDAQ: CTAS||$1,153||Industrials|
Note: The final value of a $100 investment is based on the total return, with reinvested dividends, from December 31, 2009 – December 5, 2019.
In comparison, $100 in the S&P 500 index overall would have amounted to $344 over the same time period. Let’s take a closer look at these strong performers.
Streaming giant Netflix takes the #1 spot. The company earned a staggering 3,767% return over the last ten years, meaning an initial $100 investment would now be worth almost $4,000. However, it remains to be seen whether Netflix’s first mover advantage will remain strong with new competitors entering the space.
One such rival, Amazon, takes its spot at #10 in the best-performing stocks of the decade. From its humble roots as an online bookseller, the company has transformed into an ecommerce leader. CEO Jeff Bezos credits Amazon’s admirable success to three key customer-centric factors: listen, invent, and personalize.
At #12 on the list, Constellation Brands—owner of several alcohol brands such as Corona—is also no stranger to invention. The company is protecting itself against cannabidiol (CBD) disruption with a $5 billion dollar investment in Canopy Growth, and future plans to create its own CBD-infused beverages.
Other well-known names on the top 20 list include discount department store chain Ross Stores (#15) and the credit card company Mastercard (#17), with the latter benefiting from an oligopoly in the industry.
Flying Under the Radar
Apart from the names you’d expect to see, there are also some lesser-known companies that made the list.
Well established among institutional investors and broker-dealers, MarketAxess Holdings takes the #2 spot. The fintech company operates a global electronic bond trading platform, vastly improving the process for investors who traditionally traded bonds “over-the-counter”.
In third place, healthcare technology company Abiomed develops medical devices that provide circulatory support. The company’s Impella® device—the world’s smallest heart pump— has been used to treat over 50,000 U.S. patients.
Fourth place company Transdigm Group gains its stronghold by developing specialized products for the aerospace industry. It has a strong acquisition strategy as well, having acquired over 60 businesses since its formation in 1993.
A Sector View
If we organize the top 20 by sector, information technology stocks appear in the list most frequently with five companies, followed by consumer discretionary (4 companies), and industrials and healthcare (3 companies each).
Sectors with less representation in the top 20 are communication services (2 companies), as well as consumer staples, financials, and real estate (1 company each).
The Bottom Line
While these stocks have performed extremely well over the last decade, they are not necessarily the best portfolio additions today. Some companies may have become overvalued, or be facing new competition in their industry—as is the case with Netflix. It’s best to consider all current information when building a portfolio.
However, the top 20 stocks do demonstrate the power of a buy-and-hold strategy. If you’re lucky enough to identify a winner early on, it’s possible to simply sit back and let your dollars grow.
Visualizing the Rise of the U.S. Dollar Since the 19th Century
This animated graphic shows the U.S. dollar, the world’s primary reserve currency, as a share of foreign reserves since 1900.
Visualizing the Rise of the U.S. Dollar Since the 19th Century
As the world’s reserve currency, the U.S. dollar made up 58.4% of foreign reserves held by central banks in 2022, falling near 25-year lows.
Today, emerging countries are slowly decoupling from the greenback, with foreign reserves shifting to currencies like the Chinese yuan.
At the same time, the steep appreciation of the U.S. dollar is leading countries to sell their U.S. foreign reserves to help prop up their currencies, in turn buying currencies such as the Australian and Canadian dollars to help generate higher yields.
The above animated graphic from James Eagle shows the rapid ascent of the U.S. dollar over the last century, and its gradual decline in recent years.
Dollar Dominance: A Brief History
In 1944, the U.S. dollar became the world’s reserve currency under the Bretton Woods Agreement. Over the first half of the century, the U.S. ran budget surpluses while increasing trade and economic ties with war-torn countries, expanding its influence as the world’s store of value.
Later through the 1960s, the U.S. dollar share of global foreign reserves rapidly increased as political allies stockpiled the dollar.
By 2000, dollar dominance hit a peak of 71% of global reserves. With the creation of the European Union a year earlier, countries such as China began increasing the share of euros in reserves. Between 2000 and 2005, the share of the dollar in China’s foreign exchange reserves fell by an estimated 15 percentage points.
The dollar began a long rally after the global financial crisis, which drove central banks to cut their dollar reserves to help bolster their currencies.
Fast-forward to today, and dollar reserves have fallen roughly 13 percentage points from their historical peak.
The State of the World’s Reserve Currency
In 2022, 16% of Russia’s export transactions were in yuan, up from almost nothing before the war. Brazil and Argentina have also begun adopting the Chinese currency for trade or reserve purposes. Still, the U.S. dollar makes up 80% of Brazil’s reserves.
Yet while the U.S. dollar has decreased in share of foreign reserves, it still has an immense influence in the world economy.
The majority of trade is invoiced in the U.S. dollar globally, a trend that has stayed fairly consistent over many decades. Between 1999-2019, 74% of trade in Asia was invoiced in dollars and in the Americas, it made up 96% of all invoicing.
Furthermore, almost 90% of foreign exchange transactions involve the U.S. dollar thanks to its liquidity.
However, countries are increasingly finding alternative options than the dollar. Today, Western businesses have begun settling trade with China in renminbi. Looking further ahead, digital currencies could provide options that don’t include the U.S. dollar.
Even more so, if the U.S. share of global GDP continues to shrink, the shift to a multipolar system could progress over this century.
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