Shares of Microsoft (MSFT) crossed a major milestone today as the stock traded to an all-time high for the first time since December 1999. Over the span of nearly seventeen years, MSFT saw its share price decline 75% only to gain it all back in the last seven years.
During this period that MSFT has been dead money, a lot of current members of the S&P 500 have done very well while others only wish they were unchanged since December 1999. To highlight this, the table below shows the biggest winners and losers from a screen we ran on the current members of the S&P 500 for their performance since 12/27/99. Of the current components in the index, 107 weren’t even in existence in their current publicly traded form when MSFT last made an all-time high. Of the remaining members, though, 56 are up over 1,000% compared to a gain of 50% for the S&P 500. MSFT used to be known for its quadruple-digit percentage gains, but in the last seventeen years it has past off that baton to a number of other companies.
Topping the list of winners is Monster Beverage (MNST), which is up 53,600%. To put that move in perspective, $1,000 invested in the company at the end of 1999 would be worth over half a million dollars today! The biggest standout on the list of biggest winners, though, it probably Apple (AAPL). The two companies were bitter rivals in the 1990s with MSFT getting the upper hand, but when the century turned, AAPL regained the spotlight. What is also interesting to note about the biggest winners is how few tech stocks there are. The part of the table where Technology is well represented is on the list of losers. As shown on the right side of the table, eight of the 25 biggest losers are Technology stocks. Many of these were also highfliers back in the late 1990s along with MSFT and to say that it has been rough seventeen years for them would be an understatement. In 1999, Technology was all the rage, but it just goes to show that chasing the hot stocks isn’t usually the way to achieve the highest returns.