The 10 Top Performing Stocks of the Past 10 Years

If Apple or Hansen Natural didn’t capture your investment attention–and dollars–before their meteoric rises from small stocks to superstars, fear not. Stocks are like potential mates. Just as there are always more fish in the sea, there are always more superstar stocks in the market. In fact, below are the top 10 best stocks from the last decade.

The Lost Decade

Technically, the “Lost Decade” refers to the 10-year period ending December 31, 2009, but the 2000s have also been called the “Lost Decade” when it comes to the stock market. During this time, the market essentially went nowhere.

The more current Lost Decade refers to September 11, 2001 through September 11, 2011. During this time, the S&P 500 gained 10%, for an average annual return of about 1% (excluding dividends). The period had a tough start–a 14% first-week drop in the S&P 500–due to the terrorist attacks.

However, even during longer periods when the market stands still, or even goes down, there will always be some stocks churning out stellar long-term returns.

Top 10 Performing Stocks

Here are the top performing stocks over the 10-year period ending 9/11/11 that have a current market value of at least $500 million (Apple (AAPL) almost made this list; it soared 4,186%).

top 10 stocks

Let’s put some dollar figures to these percentages. Had you invested $1,000 in the top performer, Hansen Natural, ten years ago, the current market value of your investment would be $18,194. An investment of $1,000 in number ten, Clean Harbors, would now be worth $5,571.

Top 10 Best Stocks: A Snapshot

 

 1. Hansen Natural (HANS): market cap $7.7 billion

Hansen, based in Corona, CA, sells waters, juices, sodas, coffees and energy drinks in the U.S. and internationally. Its brands include Monster Energy, Java Monster and Hansen’s, among others.

The stock returned 69% over the past 1-year period. Operating and profit margins are 27% and 17%, respectively. Last quarter’s revenue growth was 26%, while earnings grew 32%. The company has little debt, a nice cash position and a hefty 31% Return-on-Equity.

2. LivePerson Inc. (LPSN): market cap $684 million

New York-based LivePerson, via its hosted software platform, connects businesses and service providers with consumers seeking real-time help. Clients are located in the U.S. and internationally.

The stock returned 39% over the past 1-year period. Operating and profit margins are 19% and 9%, respectively. Last quarter’s revenue growth was 21%, while earnings grew 36%. The company has no debt and 23% insider-ownership.

3. WisdomTree Investments, Inc. (WETF): market cap $862 million

WisdomTree, also based in New York, is an exchange-traded funds (ETFs) sponsor and asset manager.

The stock returned a whopping 346% over the past 1-year period. Operating and profit margins are -1% and -2%, respectively. Last quarter’s revenue growth was 78%. The company is operating at a slight loss, so not a stock for those interested in currently profitable companies.

4. SXC Health Solutions Corp. (SXCI): market cap $2.9 billion

SXC, based in Lisle, Illinois, is in the pharmacy benefit management and healthcare IT business.

The stock returned 19% over the past 1-year period. Operating and profit margins are 3% and 2%, respectively. Last quarter’s revenue growth was 153%, while earnings grew 26%. A concern is the shrinking margin (earnings growing less than revenues).

5. Sirona Dental Systems, Inc. (SIRO): market cap $2.8 billion

Long Island City, NY’s Sirona sells dental equipment to dentists worldwide. The company dates back to 1882.

The stock returned 32% over the past 1-year period. Operating and profit margins are 17% and 15%, respectively. Last quarter’s revenue growth was 34%, while earnings grew 120%.

6. VirnetX Holding Corporation (VHC): market cap $985 million

VirnetX, based in Scotts Valley, CA, develops and commercializes technology for real-time communications, such as instant messaging, voice over Internet protocol, smart phones, e-readers and video conferencing.

The stock returned 5.6% over the past 1-year period. The company is not profitable, and last quarter’s revenues decreased 95%.

7. Deckers Outdoor Corporation (DECK): market cap $4.5 billion

Next on DECK is Goleta, CA-based Deckers, which sells footwear and accessories for outdoor activities and the casual lifestyle. Its three primary brands are UGG (luxury footwear), Teva (sport and outdoor footwear), and Simple (casual sneakers). It sells its products internationally.

The stock returned 102% over the past 1-year period. Operating and profit margins are 21% and 13%, respectively.

The company just reported last quarter’s results: Revenues and earnings grew at 49% and 48%, respectively–a considerable “feet” for such a large company. The stock price rose 10% on the announcement, closing at a 1-year high on October 28. While impressive, the company’s UGGs unit is responsible for 91% of revenue, which makes the company vulnerable to any downturn in the brand’s appeal.

8. EZCORP, Inc. (EZPW): market cap $1.4 million

EZCORP, based in Austin, TX, operates pawn stores and provides signature loans and credit services. It operates in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.

The stock returned 28% over the past 1-year period. Operating and profit margins are 21% and 14%, respectively. Last quarter’s revenue growth was 17%, while earnings grew 33%.

9. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. (GMCR): market cap $11 billion

The Waterbury, VT-based company is in the specialty coffee and coffee maker business. It sells coffee, teas and other beverages. The company also sells single-cup brewing systems under the Keurig brand. It sells its products primarily in North America.

The caffeine-powered stock returned 115% over the past 1-year period. Operating and profit margins are 14% and 6%, respectively. Last quarter’s revenue growth was 126%, while earnings grew 206%.

Though reported financials have continued to be spectacular, the stock price has taken a hit recently due to reports the company may be “cooking its books.”

10. Clean Harbors, Inc. (CLH): market cap $3 billion

Clean Harbors, based in Norwell, MA, provides hazardous material management, environmental cleanup, industrial and specialty and exploration services. It operates in the U.S. and a handful of other countries.

The stock returned 65% over the past 1-year period. Operating and profit margins are 12% and 5%, respectively. Last quarter’s revenues decreased 5% and earnings decreased 50%.