I came across this list of top 25 stocks in last 25 years from AOL money and finance. The original article was appeared on USAToday Sept 15, 2007.
Note statistically, a sample of 25 is too small to draw any scientific conclusion. But I found a few things to be interesting nonetheless.
1) Two money managment firms in top 5: they are Franklin Resource (up 65 times, ticker BEN), which manages the well known Franklin Templeton funds; Eaton Vance (up 38 folds, ticker EV), which manages the less known Eaton Vance funds.
Let me quote the article “As the old saying goes, the way to make money during a gold rush is to be the one selling shovels“.
2) Hardware and software: Cisco (up33 folds), Microsoft (up 29 times), Oracle (up 28 folds), and Adobe (up 20 folds). May I add Google here? It’s up around 800% from offering price of $85 to around $700 during from Aug 2004 to Sept 2007 (roughly 3 years).
3) Which stock surprise you most?
According to AOL poll, it’s Harley Davidson, the iconic US motor cycle marker. Honestly I was not that surprised, because I learned the stock and the company about 3 or 4 years back. In Nov 2004 Florida trip I saw thousands Harley fans (what they call HOG) gathering in Daytona Beach. And from what I heard, the customers of Harley probablly is the most loyal among consumer products. This alone does not mean the stock will also be good investments, but rather an important indicator.
Twenty five years is not a short time for investing, one has to be really patient to hold a winner through this period.
Realistically speaking, I think it IS very difficult to buy a good stock and hold it that long time. Besides the need of patience, one also need some skills (maybe some luck) to pick the winner in its early stage. Many Bershire Hathaway share holders may have done so. But not the technology stocks. I believe far more people got caught up with Cisco, Microsoft, and Oracle during 2000 dot com, than people actually bought those cheap in early 1990s and get the gain.