9 Stocks That Turned $100 Into a Fortune in 20 Years
Learn the most effective strategies for transforming investments into fortune.
Just about everyone's heard a fable about someone's distant friend of a friend turning a tiny investment in the stock market into a fortune in a few decades—and has cursed fate that they didn't show the same kind of vision and aptitude. But "turning $100 into millions isn't a fairy tale; it's a testament to strategic investing and the dynamism of the market," says financial expert Michael Ryan. Read on to learn more about nine stocks that turned a mere $100 investment into major money within decades—and the best strategies for doing it yourself.
"One of the most famous examples of this is probably Apple, in part because it was so unlikely," says Carter Seuthe, CEO of Credit Summit. "Apple had been around for years before it really blew up, and consistently played second fiddle to Microsoft. You could have gotten a share of Apple stock for a quarter in March of 2003. It cleared $10 in January of 2011, a 4,000% increase in a little less than 8 years. Today it's worth more than $150 a share. If someone spent $100 on Apple stock in 2003 and sold it today, they would have over $67,000 today."
A $100 investment at Amazon's IPO in 1997 would be worth more than $100,000 today. "Apple and Amazon raked in the big bucks for different reasons," explains Rob Whaley, finance specialist with Horizon Finance Group. "Apple's got that super strong brand, and people love their stuff, so they keep buying it. Their products are famous for being awesome and groundbreaking. Amazon, on the other hand, sells everything under the sun, and everyone shops there. They've got a huge range of stuff, and that keeps the money flowing in and helps them stay on top. It shows that having a cool brand and many things to sell can make a company loads of cash."
"Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway generates significant returns over time. A small investment of $100 in 1964 would have been worth $2.74 million by the end of 2019," says independent trader Rayner Teo. "This was possible due to the power of compounding. Buffett gives his investments the proper time to bloom. Some of his notable investments include Wells Fargo, American Express, and Apple."
"If Berkshire Hathaway (BRK) and Warren Buffett don't ring a bell, Coca-Cola definitely does. The carbonated beverage company is the crown jewel in Buffet's portfolio of stocks and was the entry point for many millionaires today," says Frank Barber of Learn About Gold. "Coca-Cola started at $3.25 a share with a $1.64 annual payoff—a number that has steadily increased for the past 61 years. BRK prides itself on acquiring companies like Coke because that's how they make members money. Investors have been able to turn $100 in BRK into $2.7 million by getting in at the right time and re-investing correctly."
"A stock that achieved such remarkable growth was NVIDIA Corporation. Over 20 years, their focus on graphics processing units (GPUs) for various applications, including gaming and AI, allowed an initial $100 investment to exceed $1 million," says Nikita Sherbina, founder of AIScreen. "NVIDIA's innovative technology and niche market positioning were key factors in their success."
"Microsoft wasn't just about creating Windows; it was about making computing accessible and ubiquitous," says Ryan. "This long-term vision made Microsoft not just a software company but an essential thread in the fabric of modern business and daily life."
"By far the most infamous story, in my view, is Peter Thiel's investment in Paypal," says James Beckett, a financial coach and owner of the personal finance website MoneyStocker.com. "Thiel bought 1.7 million shares of PayPal in 1999 for $0.001 per share, or $1,700. Twenty years later, in 2019, that investment was worth $5 billion." If Thiel had invested only $100, it would have yielded $150 million.
However: "The price at which Theil was able to get for these shares is borderline scandalous," says Beckett. "It was all done within the safe haven of a Roth IRA. Thiel could sell the shares tax-free and move his investment into other opportunities. He had found a tax-free investment vehicle for his entire working life, which catapulted his wealth. The only caveat is that he can't access that money until he is 59-and-a-half, in 2027. Rightly or wrongly, it's a good example I use to illustrate to my clients the immense power of using a Roth IRA."
"We've all heard the story of how Netflix took down Blockbuster and revolutionized the entertainment industry, but the story of their stock's performance isn't as well-known," says Ann Martin, director of operations at CreditDonkey. "Netflix started at less than a dollar per share back in 2002, and they had Blockbuster on the ropes within 10 years, but the stock wouldn't really take off until the mid-2010's, when Netflix started producing high-quality content in their own right. Everyone thought they were going to take out Hollywood next, and the stock price peaked at nearly $700 per share in 2021. They've fallen a bit from those heights, but someone who bought in back in 2002 would still make a killing if they sold today."
"From May 2003 to May 2023, Monster Beverage Corp (MNST) returned an astonishing 144,000% which would turn a $100 investment into $144,000," says Asher Rogovy, chief investment officer of Magnifina, LLC. "It's more than Apple, Google, Amazon, and plenty of other tech companies returned over the same period."
"This stock escaped many investors' radar," he adds. "They were not making any new technology—caffeinated soft drinks have been around for over a century. Monster was able to build a huge market with a fresh marketing approach. Until 2012, the company was known as Hansens, and its first product line was soft drinks with more natural ingredients. Soda doesn't often make the news, so investors taking a cursory look at the stock may have overlooked the Monster Energy Drink product line."
Investors who turned a modest investment into major gains did so by "identifying companies with exceptional growth potential," says Mark Stewart, CPA, of Step by Step Business. "These companies typically exhibited robust fundamentals, innovative products or services, and effective management. They thrived in expanding markets, reinvested profits for growth, and attracted long-term investors. The power of compounding and patience played a vital role as well, allowing the initial investment to multiply significantly over time."
"While past performance is not indicative of future results, these cases offer valuable lessons: Invest in companies that have a compelling vision, a strong ability to adapt, and a track record of smart, effective leadership," says Ryan. "When these factors align, the potential for significant financial growth becomes a realistic outcome, not just a Wall Street fairy tale. In Warren Buffett's words, his strategy is simple: Buy into a company because you want to own it, not because you want the stock to go up."