Every investor dreams about owning a stock that goes up by five, 10, or even 20 times in value, turning a modest investment into a truly life-changing amount of money. Of course, finding stocks that produce those kind of returns is challenging, but that doesn't mean it's impossible.
I combed through a huge list of stocks and found three companies that would have turned a modest $5,000 investment into more than $100,000 in just the last decade. Read below to see which stocks offered up these jaw-dropping returns.
No. 1: Amazon.com
It's little surprise that Amazon (AMZN -1.44%) made the list. Over the last 10 years, the house that Bezos built returned 2,656% for shareholders. That would have turned a $5,000 investment into more than $132,000.
The company's performance has been powered by its fundamentals. Amazon has gobbled up market share from retailers of all sizes, and in 2015, the company's total sales crossed the $100 billion mark. It was the fastest any company has ever done so.
Amazon is more than just an online retailer. Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos often talks about how the company's three "dreamy businesses" -- Marketplace, Prime, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) -- each continue to grow at rapid rates.
AWS is particularly noteworthy. Amazon now runs the largest cloud platform in the world, with annual sales running north of $10 billion. This scale allows AWS to serve businesses of all sizes, and to generate huge amounts of cash. Despite its size, some analysts believe that this business unit's revenue will grow by around 25% this year, and contribute meaningfully to the company's bottom line.
No. 2: Ebix
You may have never heard of Ebix (EBIX -1.53%) before -- unless you're in the insurance industry. It specializes in creating software for insurance companies, which has turned out to be a profitable niche.
Ebix was once just a small player in the industry, but that all changed when CEO Robin Raina took over. Raina took the company on an acquisition binge, which helped to propel revenue and profits higher.
The strategy has worked out well for long-term shareholders. The company's stock has returned 2,911% over the past decade, meaning a modest $5,000 investment would have turned into more than $145,000.
Still, it hasn't been a smooth ride. Ebix's growth by acquisition strategy is a tricky one to pull off, which can make it difficult to understand its financials. It has even been investigated by the U.S Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia for its business practices. In addition, the company has regularly carried a huge amount of short interest, and several short-sellers have called it "a house of cards." There was also a time that Goldman Sachs tried to buy out Ebix back in 2013, but that ended up falling through.
And yet, through all the turmoil, Ebix's business and stock have continue to grow.
No. 3: Medivation
Our list today concludes with the best-performing stock over the past 10 years: Medivation (MDVN). Anyone who was smart enough to buy into this promising biotech in 2006 and hold on through today has enjoyed a 5,154% return. A $5,000 initial investment would have grown to become more than $257,000 at current prices.
What's behind the company's huge run? A decade ago, Medivation was just a clinical-stage biotech with an interesting compound that held potential, but the company didn't have any real revenue to speak of. Fast-forward to today, and that product, Xtandi, is a successful treatment for prostate cancer.
Xtandi's success is justified by its clinical results. In late-stage trials, patients with metastatic prostate cancer who used Xtandi showed an increased overall survival to 18.4 months. That compared to the 13.6 months for the control group. In addition, Xtandi also can delay the need to start chemotherapy by 17 months, which is longer than the 8.4 months offered by Johnson & Johnson's Zytiga.
The company's performance hasn't gone unnoticed, and several pharma giants are currently in a bidding war to buy it. Given Medivation's amazing track record of success, perhaps investors should be crossing their fingers that the company can remain independent.