Don't let it get away!
Keep track of the stocks that matter to you.
Help yourself with the Fool's FREE and easy new watchlist service today.
On this day in economic and business history ...
Home Depot (NYSE: HD ) went public on Sept. 22, 1981, two years after its first stores opened in Atlanta. The home-improvement retailer listed 600,000 shares at $12 per share to raise $7.2 million -- enough to build a handful of megastores in 1981.
In its first year of trading, this tiny over-the-counter stock soared more than 300% in value, but it remained off Wall Street's radar despite recording a 220% year-over-year increase in revenue and a 150% year-over-year jump in adjusted net income for its May quarter for 1982. In fact, the only mention of Home Depot in any of the nation's four largest newspapers during 1982 -- with the exception of a couple of stock quotes and one quarterly earnings blurb -- comes at the very end of The New York Times' annual list of the best stocks of the year. Home Depot recorded a gain of 273% that year, behind some stocks that recorded gains as great as 625%. None of those stocks with higher returns exist today in any recognizable form. Advantage, Home Depot.
First-day shareholders had a 10-bagger (1,000% gainer) on their hands five years after Home Depot's IPO, despite an early peak in 1983 that gave way to a period of relative stock mediocrity. This weakness was far in the rearview mirror as the 1980s ended, and on Sept. 22, 1989, first-day shareholders held shares worth 4,800% more than their IPO purchase price. Another two years of growth sent Home Depot's gain through the roof, and on the 10-year anniversary of the company's IPO, Home Depot shares were worth 17,000% more than they had been on the first day of trading in 1981. At the end of 1991, Home Depot recorded $4.8 billion in revenue and $220 million in net income, up from just $250 million in annual sales in 1984.
Shareholders who held on for two full decades following the company's IPO would have earned a 100,000% return. Despite representing a fairly significant slide from Home Depot's dot-com peak return of more than 190,000%, this is still one of the best baby-boom era returns to be found anywhere. This exceptional performance more than justified Home Depot's induction to the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) in 1999, at which point it became the only the second housing-focused company ever added to the index, after asbestos-materials manufacturer Johns-Manville.
Finding the next great wealth-builder for life
Every good investor wants to build that perfect portfolio that they can set and forget forever. Home Depot would have more than qualified as such a stock during the early '80s, but it's too late for investors to capture the same amazing returns with this home-improvement juggernaut today. Fortunately, finding the next Home Depot might be easier than you think. We've uncovered the pillars of such a portfolio today, and we're willing to share The Motley Fool's 3 Stocks to Own Forever. Simply stated, we think they're the best stocks for true long-term investors to know about, and you can uncover them for free today, instantly; just click here now.