Earn Great Returns Until 2017

There are 353 stocks that would have earned you greater-than-20% annualized returns from 1997 through 2006. These incredible investments have a few characteristics in common. One of the most striking is their unpredictability.

The numbers story
While a buy-to-hold strategy would have earned you massive returns, it wouldn't have been a steady ride. Instead, it could have been a loss one year and a huge gain the next. Consider these examples from 1997 through 2001:

Company

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL)

-37%

212%

151%

-73%

47%

Valero (NYSE:VLO)

10%

-32%

-6%

95%

3%

Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:ERTS)

26%

48%

50%

-16%

41%

E*Trade Financial (NASDAQ:ETFC)

100%

103%

123%

-74%

39%

Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE:ANF)

89%

126%

-25%

-27%

33%

Harman International (NYSE:HAR)

-23%

-11%

47%

28%

24%

Jacobs Engineering (NYSE:JEC)

7%

61%

-20%

45%

43%

Figures reflect annual performance.

And then from 2002 through 2006:

Company

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

Apple

-35%

49%

201%

127%

18%

Valero

-3%

25%

96%

140%

-1%

Electronic Arts

-17%

92%

29%

-14%

-4%

E*Trade

-53%

160%

18%

42%

7%

Abercrombie

-23%

21%

90%

41%

7%

Harman

32%

149%

72%

-20%

2%

Jacobs

8%

35%

-1%

46%

20%

Figures reflect annual performance.

Each of these companies would have earned you greater-than-20% annual returns during the past 10 years, yet none went up every year. There were only two years when all seven of them increased in value, and there was not one year when all 353 of the market's best increased in value.

What does this tell us about earning returns for 10 years or more? It tells us that we need to be patient. The best we can do today is buy good companies with bright futures and hold them, despite inevitable market volatility.

How many folks dumped Valero when they thought the bull run in energy was over in 2004? They missed out on 2005. And how many soured on E*Trade when it got cut in half in 2002? Electronic trading has done nothing but grow since then.

Market-beaters of the future
One year isn't long enough to judge an investment thesis. That's why the real gains are made by folks who identify opportunities and hold onto them. Master investor Warren Buffett readily admits that his incredible portfolio would be better off today if he'd never sold a single share.

Fool co-founders David and Tom Gardner have made it their mission to identify 2017's market-killers for Motley Fool Stock Advisor subscribers. While they can't predict whether their recommendations will go up or down in any given year, they're confident in their long-term prospects. And in their four-plus years of making picks, the results are promising: 80% average returns for David and Tom versus 35% for the S&P 500.

The market's greatest gains from now until 2017 will be made by investors who can be patient with their stocks. If you'd like some help finding stocks worthy of your patience, click here to take a 30-day free trial to Stock Advisor. There's no obligation to subscribe, but our hope is that you'll stick around our community until 2017 and earn incredible returns along with us.

This article was originally published Jan. 31, 2006, as "Earn Great Returns Until 2016." It has been updated.

Tim Hanson does not own shares of any company mentioned in this article. Electronic Arts is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. No Fool is too cool for disclosure.


Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (2)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 538778, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 10/24/2014 11:33:14 AM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...


Advertisement