Apple Inc. (AAPL), Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. (GMCR): Do You Know the Top Stocks of the Last Decade?

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Right now, five stocks have delivered 10-year returns north of 4,500%. That’s an annual return of at least 46% — roughly tripling your investment every two years. How many of these top stocks can you name?

AAPL Chart

AAPL data by YCharts.

Let’s start at the bottom of the list.

Back in 2003, Illumina, Inc. (NASDAQ:ILMN) was a micro-cap specialist in genetic testing with negative earnings and more debt than cash. The company almost went under while waiting for the genetic-testing market to mature. Now it’s a hot name in a red-hot health-care market. Long-term shareholders have pocketed an outsized 4,600% return in 10 years, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained just 65%.

How’s that for market-beating performance? But wait — it only gets better.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)

Everybody knows Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). Under charismatic leader Steve Jobs, the Cupertino company transformed from a down-and-out wannabe computer-systems builder into a media-player giant, then a leading music-seller, and finally the smartphone-and-tablet powerhouse you see today. It’s a classic rags-to-riches story that created a global powerhouse. The result: a 4,800% return.

Then there’s coffee vendor Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. (NASDAQ:GMCR), which built an empire out of brilliant acquisitions. The company bought the rights to the Keurig single-serve coffee machines, along with the rest of the Keurig company, and that $160 million investment was the main reason for Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. (NASDAQ:GMCR)’s 5,100% 10-year climb.

The next name is still a small cap. WisdomTree is an investment firm that specializes in managing exchange-traded funds. It may only be the fifth-largest player in this field, but it’s an up-and-comer with a full head of steam. It manages more than $23 billion of investor assets nowadays, up from just $1 billion in 2006. That’s good for an astounding 9,600% decade-long return.

The long-term investment king should be familiar to longtime Fool readers. Energy drink giant Monster Beverage Corp (NASDAQ:MNST), formerly known as Hansen Natural, crushed all comers with a 22,200% return. That’s nearly 72% per year on a sustained 10-year run, though the pace slowed down considerably in the back half of this jaw-dropping jump. Monster Beverage Corp (NASDAQ:MNST) shares have “only” tripled in the last five years, which sounds weak only when compared to the nearly 60-bagger return of the previous five years.

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