The 12 best-performing stocks of the 2000s

The stock market has certainly seen its ups and downs since the year 2000. But for many companies, it's been almost all ups.

Brendan McDermid/Reuters/File
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange September 17, 2015.

The stock market has certainly seen its ups and downs since the year 2000. But for many companies, it's been almost all ups.

Here we present the top 12 performing stocks since the year 2000.

We developed this list by analyzing historical price data from Morningstar, Yahoo! Finance, and Fidelity. You'll see an interesting mix of companies, including a good share of biotech and pharmaceuticals, some tech stocks, and even an insurance company. There are household names, as well as some firms that might be unfamiliar to you.

If you invested early in these companies, chances are you're reading this while retired somewhere on a tropical island.

1. Medivation [NASDAQ: MDVN]

This biopharmaceutical company was founded in 2004 and captured very little attention until a massive run-up in 2012, when it got government approval for a prostate cancer drug. The company recently announced a two-for-one split, its second in three years. Investors who got in early would have seen a 14,000% return on investment.

 2. Apple [NYSE: AAPL]

It's astonishing to think that at the end of 1999, you could buy a share of Apple stock for less than $4. The introduction of several of the most revolutionary products soon followed, and now Apple is worth more than any company in history. How does a 6,000% return on your investment sound to you? Kudos if you saw it coming at the beginning of 2000.

3. Universal Insurance Holdings, Inc. [NYSE: UVE]

Chances are you've never even heard of this company, but it's stock has grown exponentially since going public in 2007. This insurance company that operates in eight states has shown steady profits that a have benefited shareholders with an average annualized return of 84%, according to Morningstar.

4. Amazon [NASDAQ: AMZN]

Amazon gets hammered a lot for its low profit margins, but investors haven't been complaining. The online retailer went public in 1997, and since 2000 has seen its shares rise nearly 700%. But don't be mad if you didn't get in early, as shares have risen nearly 1,200% since 2008.

5. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. [NASDAQ: REGN]

This is yet another biopharmaceutical company that was largely invisible until it saw success with one of its drugs. In Regeneron's case, investors saw a big rise in 2012 following successful trials of a drug to treat macular degeneration of the eyes, and it also got approval for drugs to treat high cholesterol and colorectal cancer. Shares have continued to rise and have gone up another 40% this year. Its current price of more than $580 is 48 times what it was at the start of 2000.

6. Priceline [NASDAQ: PCLN]

If William Shatner was paid for his endorsement in stock, he's an even richer man than I suspected. The "name your price" travel site began the 2000s trading at about $340, and they are now trading at more than $1,200. That's even with a 6:1 split in 2003. Priceline weathered the tech meltdown, and it's been boosted by a series of acquisitions, including Kayak, OpenTable, and Asian travel site Agoda.

7. Netflix [NASDAQ: NFLX]

When Netflix began in 2002, it was a humble movie rental company that only dealt in discs. Streaming didn't even exist. Netflix overcame some blunders (remember Qwikster?) and became a leader in streaming movies and producing original online content. It now trades at more than $120, and that's after a 7:1 stock split in July.

8. Illumina, Inc. [NASDAQ: ILMN]

This maker of genome mapping machines went public in the summer of 2000, but didn't make much noise until 2013, when its shares more than tripled. It now has a corner on the genetics analysis business, with Illumina machines producing 90% of the DNA data out there. Company officials think there is a $20 billion market for high-speed DNA sequencing. Investors who got in early on Illumina will have seen a 1,000% return on investment, much of it in the last few years.

9. Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. [NASDAQ: ALXN]

Shares of this drug maker recently hit their highest levels ever, to the great benefit of anyone who got in at the early part of the 2000s. Shares began a rapid rise in 2011, when it received approval for its marquee drug, Soliris, which treats a rare blood disorder. A 2,500% rise in share price since 2000 makes this one of the best performing stocks of the last 15 years.

10. NewMarket Corp. [NYSE: NEU]

The parent company of Afton Chemical and Ethyl Corporation has seen almost nothing but steady share growth over the last 15 years, and didn't even dip much during the financial crisis in 2009. Shareholders will have seen a nearly 2,000% return on investment since the year 2000, and its dividend has been very reliable.

11. BioSpecifics Technologies Corp. [NASDAQ: BSTC]

Launched in 1957 as one of the nation's first biotech companies, BioSpecifics went public with little fanfare in 1991. In fact, it really didn't start to make noise until less than a decade ago. Shares of the Long Island-based company have risen 3,000% since 2000, with most of the rise in the last seven years. It had a great 2014 after good news surrounding its Xiaflex drug. The stock has shown some volatility recently, hitting a 52-week high in July before dropping 20% in the last month.

12. Monster Beverage [NASDAQ: MNST]

The company that is synonymous with the energy drink craze has been one of the top stock performers of the last 15 years, with a huge run-up in the middle of the last decade, and shares have also more than doubled in the last 52 weeks. In 2014, Monster nearly caught up to Red Bull as the top-selling energy drink, and has a 40% market share.

This article is from Tim Lemke of Wise Bread, an award-winning personal finance and credit card comparison website.

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