$1,000 might not seem like a lot of money to get started with investing. But over time, plenty of stocks have turned that seemingly paltry amount into over $100,000. Let's examine two well-known tech stocks that did just that for patient investors -- NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA) and Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM).
Chipmaker NVIDIA went public in 1999 at $12 per share. $1,000 would have been enough to buy 83 shares. The stock subsequently split four times, boosting your position to 996 shares -- which would be worth over $105,000 today. Moreover, that stake would be paying out $558 in dividends per year.
But to get to that point, you would have needed a lot of patience. NVIDIA surged from a split-adjusted price of $1.58 on its first trading day to around $23 in early 2002, but plunged to under $3 later that year in the aftermath of the dot-com crash. NVIDIA wouldn't recover to the low $20s until late 2006 -- after which it rose to the mid-$30s before the 2008-2009 crash knocked it back to the single digits.
Yet the past five years have been smooth sailing for NVIDIA. The stock rallied over 625% on growing demand for its gaming GPUs, data center GPUs, and ARM-based CPUs for connected cars -- which enabled it to post double-digit sales growth over the past five quarters.
These core businesses are expected to remain strong, but the stock's rising valuation, tougher competition in the GPU and connected car markets, and the expiration of a graphics cross-licensing deal with Intel are expected to cause NVIDIA's sales growth to slow to just 16% this year, compared to 38% growth last year.
Qualcomm, the biggest mobile chipmaker in the world, went public in 1991 at $16 per share. You could have bought 62 shares with $1,000. After the four subsequent splits, you would own 1,984 shares, which would be worth over $113,000 today. That stake would also be paying out $4,206 in annual dividends.
But in 1998, Qualcomm spun off Leap Wireless, which gave existing shareholders one Leap share for every four Qualcomm shares held. This would have given you 31 shares of Leap, which were worth about $540 on its first trading day. AT&T bought Leap for $15 per share in 2013, which would have valued your stake at $465.
Like NVIDIA, Qualcomm stock surged during the dot-com bubble. But unlike NVIDIA, Qualcomm still hasn't rebounded to its split-adjusted bubble high of $88 yet. Qualcomm experienced nearly uninterrupted growth from 2010 to 2014 as sales of its ARM-based mobile chips rose, demand for its baseband modems climbed with new 3G/4G technologies, and smartphone makers paid it royalties and licensing fees to access its massive portfolio of wireless patents.
However, Qualcomm's business has been squeezed over the past two years by cheaper chipmakers like MediaTek, major smartphone makers producing their own first-party chipsets, and a growing number of OEMs and regulators demanding lower licensing fees. Despite all those challenges, analysts still believe that Qualcomm's revenue and earnings will respectively rise 1% and 5% this year on robust sales of its flagship Snapdragon chipsets and its growth into adjacent markets.
But what if I can't get IPO shares?
Most brokerages reserve IPO shares for higher net worth clients, so you probably won't get shares of a hot public offering with just $1,000 in your account. But if you had simply bought NVIDIA or Qualcomm when they first hit the market, you would still have multibagger returns today -- NVIDIA has rallied over 6,350% since its first trading day, and Qualcomm has surged nearly 10,000%.
The key to getting those massive returns is simple patience and resisting the urge to sell everything during steep market downturns. It always pays to remember Warren Buffett's timeless advice: "When we own portions of outstanding businesses with outstanding managements, our favorite holding period is forever."