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3 Greatest Retailer Stocks of All Time

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The emergence of big-box chain stores and the explosion of e-commerce have combined to wreak havoc on the landscape of modern retailing. Storied names such as Sears and Kmart are struggling to survive; others, such as RadioShack and Circuit City, couldn't. But three retailers, in particular, have not only survived but thrived for decades in the cutthroat business, as evidenced by the stellar long-term performance of their stocks.

Hendrik Bessembinder of Arizona State University's W. P. Carey School of Business made this discovery when he analyzed the lifetime returns of 25,782 common stocks over a 90-year span. The finance professor found that 96% of all stocks collectively performed no better than risk-free 1-month Treasury bills. The remaining 4% – just 1,000 stocks – generated all of the nearly $32 trillion in wealth created by the stock market between July 1926 and December 2015. Even more striking, the top 30 stocks accounted for one-third of that amount. Three of the 30 top-performing stocks are retail stocks that are very familiar to even the casual shopper. See for yourself.

SEE ALSO: The 30 Greatest Stocks of All Time


Stocks are listed in order of the dollar amount of lifetime wealth creation, which includes reinvested dividends, from lowest to highest. Current stock data as of August 28, 2017. Analysts’ ratings provided by Zacks. For more details on Bessembinder’s study methodology and findings, download a copy of his paper, "Do Stocks Outperform Treasury Bills?"


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