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Tech stocks that would have been an awesome investment 10 years ago

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An investment in Apple stock 10 years ago would be worth 47 times as much today. An investment in Amazon would have given you 14 times your money back. Not a bad way to spend some dollars in 2002.

Those are far from the only stocks that would have given huge returns over a 10-year time span, though. Other notable mentions include Akamai and Red Hat, both returning more than 10 times the money over the past 10 years.

We were curious how much the stock value of various tech companies had increased over the past 10 years, so courtesy of some digging in Google Finance we took 32 well-known tech companies that are traded on Nasdaq and NYSE, and noted how much their stock value has changed over time.

tech stock gains in 10 years
Larger version available.

It’s worth noting that since this analysis is based on two snapshots of the stock market, one now and one 10 years ago, it hides the fact that many of these stocks have had a number of ups and downs during that time period.

Observations

  • 26 out of these 32 companies, 81%, are worth more today than 10 years ago.
  • 19 out of 32, almost 60%, have more than doubled the investment over 10 years (i.e. a return of 100% or more).
  • 23 out of 32, almost 72%, beat the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
  • Average gain with Apple included: 409%
  • Average gain without Apple included: 275%
  • We included Google even though the stock has only been around for 8 years. Same thing with Salesforce.com. Trivia: An initial investment in Salesforce.com would today be worth 66% more than the same money put into Google.
  • Yahoo may be in trouble, but a 10-year investment would still have been worth 1.8 times as much today.
  • RIM’s stock, although its value has dropped quite a bit in later years, is still worth 3.9 times as much today as it was 10 years ago.
  • Good old IBM has actually done ok. An investment would be worth 2.4 times as much today.
  • And what about Microsoft? Turns out it has not performed very strongly. Investing in Microsoft 10 years ago, you would now have 1.1 times the money.

Comparing the polar opposites: Apple and Nokia

The data we collected paints a clear picture. When looking at long-term value change, i.e. over the past 10 years, Apple and Nokia are polar opposites.

Case in point: If you had invested the same amount of money in the two companies 10 years ago, the Apple investment would today be worth 243 times as much as the Nokia investment.

Some of this massive difference can no doubt be attributed to the rise of the iPhone and Nokia’s failure to capture as much of the smartphone market as it should have. Remember, Nokia was doing smartphones well before Apple came into the picture, they just failed to adapt to the massive paradigm change that came with the iPhone, and later, Android.

Final words

It’s always easy to look back at the past with 20/20 hindsight, but that doesn’t stop a ton of people wishing they had invested some of their hard-earned money in companies like these a few years ago.

Think about it, if you had put just $5,000 into Apple stock in 2002, you could have sold it today for around $234,000. Ka-ching!

The challenge now is to figure out which companies will see the biggest returns over the coming 10 years.

Disclaimer: We’re techies, not financial analysts. Keep that in mind if you decide to do any investing based on this article.

Image credit: Dollar-bills image via Shutterstock.



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