The Top 10 Stocks of the Last 10 Years

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stocksBuy-and-hold might not be dead but it sure doesn't work in a secular bear market. Anyone keeping tabs on his or her 401(k) knows all too well the deplorable returns generated by stocks over the past 10 years.

Take the S&P 500 ($INX), the most common broad benchmark for U.S. stock performance. If you invested $1,000 in the S&P 500 10 years ago, you would have only $850 today. And that's in nominal dollars, not factoring in inflation. Ouch.

Yet when it comes to truly outsized returns, nothing compares to the potential of individual stocks. The broader market may have been worse than dead money for the last decade, but plenty of issues have put up jaw-dropping returns. Sure, gold has been a great investment for a while now, rising about 400% over the last 10 years.

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But that's chump change when compared to the top performing stocks.

Apple (AAPL) just celebrated the ninth anniversary of the iPod with its stock trading above $300 a share. A decade ago you could have had a share for $9.25. The stock is up more than 3,000% since then. In other words, if you had invested $1,000 in Apple in October 2000, your stake would now be worth more than $32,000.

Maybe this is just an exercise in wistful greed, but we screened the current S&P 500 for the top performing stocks of the last 10 years. We adjusted for dividends and set a minimum starting price of $1 a share. The result is sort of an all-star concentrated portfolio, heavy on energy, commodities and tech.

A $1,000 investment a decade ago would today be worth:

  1. Apple (AAPL) -- $32,280
  2. Southwestern Energy (SWN) -- $31,880
  3. Cliffs Natural Resources (CLF) -- $26,460
  4. Coach (COH) -- $21,320
  5. Ventas (VTR) -- $19,420
  6. Cognizant Technology (CTSH) -- $18,870
  7. CarMax (KMX) -- $15,080
  8. Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold (FCX) -- $14,630
  9. Cummins (CMI) -- $13,010
  10. Range Resources (RRC) -- $12,440

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