world cup stock list

The World Cup of the Stock Market

The FIFA World Cup began on July 13th 1930. Because of World War II though, the tournament was halted for 12 years until 1950. Since then, it has been played every four years at venues all over the world. Given the spirit of millions of fútbol fans around the world, we wanted to look at the “The World Cup Stock List.” That is, 32 of the best stock investments over the last 32 years.

The World Cup Stock List is led by some names you might not consider. Surely many investors’ first few guesses would be Amazon (AMZN). However, did you know that there are at least four other names ahead of it?

Or how about the fact that Apple (AAPL) didn’t even crack the top 15 of the World Cup Stock List? Alphabet (GOOGL) didn’t even make the list!

Surely some names may have slipped through the cracks, but overall we have a really interesting and compelling list. Let’s also keep in mind that this includes the stock performance over the last 32 years, not necessarily from the time of a company’s IPO. So while Walmart (WMT) may be up 120,000% over its lifetime, it’s buried pretty low on the World Cup Stock List. So low in fact that its 2,460% gain was just like the 2018 U.S. Men’s team — i.e. it didn’t make the cut.

So who did make the cut?

The World Cup Stock List: The Bottom 12

Rounding out the bottom 12 were names like Intel (INTC) and Helen of Troy (HELE), each with gains of about 10,500%. There were biotech names like Gilead Sciences (GILD), Biogen (BIIB) and Celgene (CELG), which boast gains of 11,200%, 16,210% and 16,310%, respectively. Starbucks (SBUX), Pfizer (PFE), Roper (ROP) and Kansas City Southern (KSU) were in the group too. 

Constellation Brands (STZ) generated an 11,280% and Stryker (SYK) surged 19,180%. Even though these are in the bottom dozen names, we’re still talking about gains in excess of 10,000%.

That’s more than 100-fold an investor’s original investment. In other words, had we put a modest $2,500 into Intel, it would be worth more than a quarter of a million dollars today. Think about a 3% dividend yield on that puppy, too.

The next group gets even more absurd, though.

World Cup Stock List No. 11-20

Just because the list dates back until 1986, doesn’t mean that the stocks had to exist back then. Take Nvidia (NVDA) for example. The company wasn’t founded until 1993 and didn’t IPO until 1999. Shares are now up 21,550% over its lifetime, a monumental figure in itself. The funny thing is though? Even though a $5,000 investment in Nvidia would be worth more than $2 million now, it’s only No. 20 on the list.

Ahead of it is Nike (NKE), Applied Materials (AMAT), Apple (AAPL) and Electronic Arts (EA).

Netflix (NFLX) and its 32,500% gain landed it at No. 15 on the World Cup Stock List, while Danaher (DHR) and Amgen (AMGN) were able to top the streaming giant with their gains of roughly 34,870%.

Balchem (BCPC) is up almost 40,000% over the last 32 years. The crazy thing about Balchem is that its market cap is only $3.17 billion. It shows just how powerful stock moves can be no matter what the size. For comparison, BCPC has performed better than Apple over the last three-plus decades, even as the latter is knocking on the door of a $1 trillion market cap.

World Cup Stock List: The Best of the Best

Home Depot (HD) is a great entrepreneur story, as its grown more than 46,000% and made its founders into billionaires. But the World Cup Stock List moves quickly after that. Home Depot is at No. 9, but UnitedHealth (UNH) is up at No. 7 with a far superior gain of approximately 57,000%.

Amazon is No. 5 at 86,420%, just behind Microsoft (MSFT) and Cisco (CSCO) with gains of 91,000% and 110,300%, respectively. Adobe (ADBE) sits in second at 114,600% and Monster Beverage (MNST) sports a 1,100,000% return. MNST’s adjusted price per share from 32 years ago is about a penny, for reference on its return. It represents an 11,000-fold return on investment, making a meager $1,000 bet worth more than $10 million today.

world cup stock list

A Few Takeaways From the World Cup Stock List

So I’m sure I’ve missed a few names, as combing this data was not a piece of cake. But the point remains the same: Investors didn’t have to buy-and-hold stocks from 1949 to make a killing in the stock market. Quite a large amount of stocks have performed well over the last decade, with more than a few returning 1,000% or more. Now it’s easy to look back and say, “If I had only bought Apple at such and such, I’d be a millionaire today.”

Well, hindsight investing is the easiest gig in the world. It’s not so easy when you’re in the trenches actually doing the work. Using options could have drastically improved these returns too, say if we used LEAP options to go long or had long-dated calls at the right time. 

Big gains can be found in 10 to 20 years, assuming investors pick right. Conveniently though, hitting on just one of these names would likely be enough to carry one’s portfolio. Another thing I noticed? While Alibaba (BABA), Alphabet and Facebook (FB) are some of the biggest names in the stock market by market cap, they didn’t make the list of the best returns. That’s because they made their public debuts after gaining substantial size. 

Often, the names on our list were the front-runners of big-time revolutions like online shopping, cell phones and streaming. Additionally, there were names that took part in multiple evolutions of an industry, like Danaher and Pfizer.

Some of these names even have a sub-$5 billion market cap. It goes to show what quality management and business can do over a long-term time frame. Old tech is also pretty dominant, meaning that just because a company isn’t crushing it today, doesn’t mean that other investors haven’t been holding the name for a few decades, radically changing their life. 

The biggest takeaway? That all of these gains are attainable for investors. Again, we didn’t need to buy Coca-Cola when it went public or GE 90 years ago. You could have bought Alphabet on the IPO and made 2,000% or MasterCard (MA) and nabbed 4,200%. It’s not rocket science — it’s patience. And it’s just one of a million ways to make money in the stock market.