Among tens of thousands of penny stocks, only a few made it big, so let’s take a look at 15 most successful penny stocks in history.
While most of us hear the words “the broader market” or use it in conversations and investing, usually refer only to a small part of the stock market. Beneath a lot of more or less-known stocks are thousands if not tens of thousands of stocks little has been heard of. These are penny stocks. Penny stocks had been known as actual stocks trading for “pennies” or under $1 per share, but the SEC defines a penny stock as a security issued by a very small company that trades at under $5 per share. The majority of penny stocks are trading over the counter, usually on the OTC Bulletin Board, but there are many cheap stocks that are trading on major exchanges as well.
Penny stocks tend to stay under the radar because usually they don’t represent much interest to anyone. With the OTC market being unregulated, sometimes the information that these penny stocks disclosed can be misleading, and sometimes it can be false altogether, used to scam people from thousands of dollars. This is why investing in penny stocks is considered very risky, although the rewards can be equally high. As penny stocks are trading at very low price levels, even an insignificant increase in their price translates in double- or triple-digit percentage growth.
In rare instances, some news about certain penny stocks emerge, usually related to their spectacular growth. For example, in 2013, when Twitter Inc. (NYSE:TWTR) was preparing to go public, traders confused its ticker for the one of a bankrupt electronics retailer, which even had a similar name: Tweeter. The confusion led to a spike in trading of the said stock, which registered a volume of over 14 million shares and surged by more than 1,400% in one day. Another recent example was CYNK Technology, which was a company with no revenue and no assets, but somehow saw its stock jump from less than a dime to $20 at one point, before the trading was halted.
However, besides this dark side of the penny stock market, there are also many companies that eventually made it big. Many companies choose to list their stock even at low prices to get access to some capital and if the company succeeds, its stock eventually grows. However, such instances are pretty rare as companies that have great business models and good products have other options to secure funding without wandering into the volatile waters of the penny stock markets.
In addition to new and unknown companies that are trading on the penny stock market, there are some well-known companies, but whose stock price dropped due to some circumstances. These companies are sometimes called the “fallen angels”. They are worth some attention, because the developments that led to these stocks’ decline can be only temporary setbacks and the companies have the potential to rebound. The last financial crisis created many such companies, which eventually got back to the pre-crisis levels, or are still climbing.
Having said that, let’s take a closer look at 15 most successful penny stocks in history. Many of the stocks in the list were trading in the penny stock territory during the financial crisis. Sometimes, looking at the long-term chart of many large companies, it seems that the were penny stocks once, but it’s not true since the prices reflected on the charts are adjusted for multiple stock splits. We did not include such companies in the list.
1. Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE:LVS)
Market Cap: $48.80 Billion
In 2007, Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE:LVS) was booming as the company was doing exceedingly well in Macau, which was the most lucrative gambling market in the world. The company’s stock was trading near $150 per share, which made the company’s founder and CEO Sheldon Adelson the third richest American in 2007. However, the financial crisis sent the stock plummeting and in March 2009 it was trading under $2.0 per share. Mr. Adelson had to invest $1.0 billion of his money into the company. Since the crisis, the company’s outlook has brightened and the stock has rebounded and might still have some room to grow, given that it was affected by the recent gambling revenue decline in Macau.
2. Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F)
Market Cap: $44 Billion
Second on our list of most successful penny stocks in history is Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) that was another “fallen angel” during the financial crisis, although it did better than its fellow Detroit carmaker, General Motors Company (NYSE:GM), which had to file for bankruptcy. Nevertheless, in the second half of 2008 and the first half of 2009, the stock was trading under $3 per share. The stock has rebounded quickly and is now well above $10 per share.
3. Monster Beverage Corporation (NASDAQ:MNST)
Market Cap: $31.79 Billion
Back in 2003, maker of energy drinks Monster Beverage Corporation (NASDAQ:MNST) was known as Hansen’s Natural Soda and an investor could’ve picked up a share of Hansen at as low as $0.25 per share. However, since then the company’s sales have advanced and so did the stock price, which is currently trading at around $56 per share.
4. Pharmacyclics, Inc. (NASDAQ:PCYC)
Market Cap: $21 Billion (before acquisition)
The biotech space is full of stories about companies that generated great returns for their investors. One of these stocks is Pharmacyclics, Inc. (NASDAQ:PCYC), which in 2015 was acquired by AbbVie Inc (NYSE:ABBV) for $21 billion. Prior to that, the stock was trading for less than $5 between 2006 and 2009 and it turned out to be a great investment, given the price of $261.25 per share that AbbVie offered in cash and stock.
5. GGP Inc (NYSE:GGP)
Market Cap: $18.26 Billion
Next in line on our list of most successful penny stocks in history is GGP Inc (NYSE:GGP) that had been trading well above $40 per share before the financial crisis hit the stock market. Between October 2008 and April 2009 it slid in the penny stock territory trading as low as $0.40 per share at one point. The stock has quickly recovered after the crisis, but it is still trading below the pre-crisis levels, so it may have some more room to grow, although the decline of the brick-and-mortar stores might put some pressure on it.
6. Mylan N.V. (NASDAQ:MYL)
Market Cap: $16.40 Billion
Mylan N.V. (NASDAQ:MYL) is one of those few companies that started as a penny stock and made it big. The stock started trading on Over-the-Counter market back in 1973 and then moved to NYSE, where it was trading below $5 for several years. In 2000s the stock started to gain more ground and in 2008 it moved to NASDAQ from NYSE. Adjusted for several stock splits over the years, the stock has returned over 94,000% since its IPO.
7. Concur Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ:CNQR)
Market Cap: $8.3 Billion (before acquisition)
We are continuing our list of most successful penny stocks in history with Concur Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ:CNQR), an American SaaS company saw its stock slid into the penny stock territory in the second half of 2000 and stayed there for around two years. However in 2003 it started to gain ground and topped $20 per share in 2007. It went even higher in the following years until it was acquired by SAP SE (ADR) (NYSE:SAP) for $129 per share, which represented a 20% premium over the stock’s price of $107.80.
8. Sirona Dental Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:SIRO)
Market Cap: $6.15 Billion
Back in 2000, Sirona Dental Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:SIRO) was trading below $1.0 and over the next decade and a half the stock consistently appreciated. In 2015, the share price of the manufacturer of dental equipment topped $100 per share and the same year it entered into a definitive merger agreement with DENTSPLY International Inc.
9. American Axle & Manufact. Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AXL)
Market Cap: $1.51 Billion
As a manufacturer of driveline and drivetrain systems and other components, American Axle & Manufact. Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AXL) was also hit in the financial crisis as its clients in the automotive segment plunged, with some even having to file for bankruptcy. However, even though the stock was trading below $1 per share during the crisis, it avoided the fate of carmakers and didn’t have to file for bankruptcy. The stock has recovered since then, but it is still trading below pre-crisis levels and the company has yet to bring back dividend payments.
10. Quality Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:QSII)
Market Cap: $998 Million
Next on the list of most successful penny stocks in history is Quality Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:QSII) that spent over a decade trading as a penny stock after it had gone public in 1982. In 2000s it started to grow and reached an all-time high of $48.50 in 2011. Adjusted for splits, the stock of the developer of software for the ambulatory care market in the US has surged by over 1,100%.
11. Canadian Solar Inc. (NASDAQ:CSIQ)
Market Cap: $905 Million
The solar industry had its ups and downs and the stock of the Canadian maker of PV modules Canadian Solar Inc. (NASDAQ:CSIQ) also had its highs and lows over the last decade. In 2011, the stock dropped below $5 per share and stayed low until 2013 when it rebounded and reached over $40 per share. In the last couple of years it has lost some ground, but it is still trading at over $15 per share, which represents a gain of over 200% from its 2011 lows.
12. Medifast Inc (NYSE:MED)
Market Cap: $671 Million
Medifast Inc (NYSE:MED) was once an unkown company, whose stock was trading at less than $1 per share in early 2000s. However, over the years the company grew and turned into a well-known brand of weight loss products. Even though the stock has been volatile and had several periods when it was back under $5, it is currently trading at over $56, which represents a boost of nearly 15,000%. Let’s see what’s next on our list of most successful penny stocks in history.
13. BJ’s Restaurants, Inc. (NASDAQ:BJRI)
Market Cap: $648 Million
BJ’s Restaurants, Inc. (NASDAQ:BJRI) is currently a large company that operates over 189 restaurants in 24 US states and whose stock is trading at around $30 per share. However, back in 1997, when the stock had just gone public, one share was valued at slightly over $1. Long term investors who picked the stock and stuck with it for the past two decades enjoyed strong returns of over 1,400%.
14. Pier 1 Imports Inc (NYSE:PIR)
Market Cap: $355 Million
Pier 1 Imports Inc (NYSE:PIR)’s stock had had a great run until the financial crisis started. The company that sells furniture and other decorative accessories had been already struggling since 2003, but the burst of the housing bubble, which affected not just financial companies, but also furniture retailers, sent the stock below $1 per share. It managed to recover in the following years, reaching $24 in 2013, but since then it has been on a decline again and is currently again trading below $5 per share.
15. True Religion Apparel, Inc. (NASDAQ:TRLG)
Market Cap: —
True Religion Apparel, Inc. (NASDAQ:TRLG) is not what you could call a successful penny stock, given that the company has filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. However, what’s interesting is a small detail in its history. Apparently, True Religion Apparel, Inc. (NASDAQ:TRLG) was involved in a penny stock scheme, but its designer jeans actually became popular and the company managed to succeed. In 2013, it was announced that True Religion Apparel, Inc. (NASDAQ:TRLG) would be acquired by TowerBrook Capital Partners for $32 per share.
This was our list of most successful penny stocks in history.