Finding stocks that can produce massive returns is the goal of every investor. However, pinpointing which ones can do it consistently over many years is even more lucrative. Not only are these stocks fun to tell your friends about (and maybe a humble brag), but they can boost your portfolio's performance.

These two stocks that turned $1,000 into at least $9,000 didn't do it over 30 years -- they did it in a decade. Admittedly, that kind of performance is rare, but it's exactly what Amazon (AMZN -1.14%) (up 902%) and MercadoLibre (MELI -1.69%) (up 1010%) did from Sept. 8, 2012, to Sept. 8, 2022.

While you can still buy both stocks today, it's helpful to look back at what made them grow so quickly and use that information to pinpoint stocks that could repeat their performances today. Let's dive into two case studies.

E-commerce giants

Both Amazon and MercadoLibre operate e-commerce marketplaces. While consumers in the U.S. (and in many places worldwide) know Amazon well, fewer know MercadoLibre. In short, MercadoLibre's business is similar to Amazon, except that it primarily serves 18 countries across Latin America. However, Amazon and MercadoLibre have a few key differences.

Both companies have ridden the wave of the e-commerce rollout, although the U.S. is currently in a much later phase than Latin America. Still, the growth of online shopping has been incredible over the past decade.

Company Q2 2012 Sales/Gross Merchandise Volume Q2 2022 Sales/Gross Merchandise Volume Annual Growth Rate
Amazon $12.8 Billion $101.5 Billion 23%
MercadoLibre $1.3 Billion $8.6 Billion 21%

Sources: Amazon and MercadoLibre. Amazon reports sales for commerce, while MercadoLibre reports gross merchandise volume.

Maintaining a 20% or greater annual growth rate over a decade is basically unheard of, but that's what these two commerce giants did. However, each company had another growth catalyst that helped drive incredible stock performance.

A splash of tech

For Amazon, it was Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS is a cloud computing service that allows users to add and subtract computing power as necessary. In Q2 of 2012, AWS was lumped in with Amazon's "Supplemental Revenue Highlights-Other." This category included AWS, marketing and promotional activities, co-branded credit  cards, and other seller sites. Basically, it was a footnote in a segment that only produced $515 million in the quarter.

Fast forward to 2022, and AWS has its own slide in Amazon's quarterly report and generated $19.8 billion in revenue and $5.7 billion in operating income. For context, Amazon's total sales in Q2 2012 were $12.8 billion. That's downright impressive for a segment that was a footnote just a decade ago.

As for MercadoLibre, its digital-payments business was the tech boost the company needed. At first, MercadoPago (the digital-payments business) was created as an avenue for consumers to turn cash into a digital-payment method to buy items on MercadoLibre's e-commerce marketplace. Over time, it expanded and became the primary way to make digital payments in Latin America.

In Q2 2012, MercadoPago's total payment volume (TPV) was $412 million. Now, TPV was $30.2 billion in its most recent quarter. That's an annual growth rate of 54%. Furthermore, this segment is putting up huge numbers, as MercadoLibre's fintech division (which also includes a much smaller consumer credit division) grew 107% year over year to $1.2 billion, nearly half of total revenue.

What can investors learn?

Investors can learn two things from these two companies. First, if a company can capture and dominate an emerging industry that has the potential to change how people live, then the stock will likely be a portfolio changer.

Second, usually, a single offering isn't enough. Instead, companies must offer products outside their core offering that either complement their primary offering or capture another segment of a significant market.

MercadoLibre and Amazon both accomplished this. However, neither one is finished growing, and you can still purchase their stocks today if you feel the current business trajectory (Amazon and MercadoLibre's Q2 revenue grew 7% and 57%, respectively) will continue. If it does, then these stocks still have plenty of upside.