The Top 10 Stocks of the Past Decade

One thing nearly everyone can agree on about the past decade is that it has been very, very good for stock market investors.

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One thing nearly everyone can agree on about the past decade is that it has been very, very good for stock market investors. The Russell 1000 large-company index, which tracks the 1,000 biggest U.S. stocks by market value, has gained roughly 252% since the start of the 2010s, including reinvested dividends.

Some stocks have done far better. Microsoft (MSFT (opens in new tab)) awoke from its long slumber and jumped 545% over the past decade. Dollar General (DG (opens in new tab)) made a lot of bucks, gaining 632%. And Ulta Beauty (ULTA (opens in new tab)) has made a lovely 1,325% gain.

But those aren't the tippy-top stocks of the Russell 1000. Not even close.

Here are the top 10 large-company stocks of the decade, as well as a look at what put them on top of the heap. We chose the Russell 1000 because it offers an even broader look at the stock market than the S&P 500, but still excludes smaller companies where extremely outsize gains are more common and can more easily come from a single, quick driver.

Data, provided by S&P Capital IQ, is as of Dec. 17. Total returns are a combination of price returns and dividends, and is calculated from Dec. 31, 2009, through Dec. 17, 2019.

John Waggoner
Contributing Writer, Kiplinger.com
John Waggoner has put personal finance and investing into plain English for more than three decades. He was a senior columnist for InvestmentNews and, prior to that, USA TODAY's personal finance columnist for 25 years. He has written for Morningstar, The Wall Street Journal, and Money magazine. Waggoner has also written three books on finance and investing. He has an undergraduate and graduate degree in English literature and is working on his Certified Financial Planner designation. He lives in Vienna, Virginia.