The meteoric rise of Netflix over the past decade has been nothing short of phenomenal, with its stock rising nearly 7,000% in that time period. The S&P 500 component also surpassed the index itself, which didn't even double in value.
Of course, not every stock can be Netflix, but more than a few constituents of the broad market index had their own stellar performances, and over the last 10 years, Priceline Group (NASDAQ: PCLN), Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: REGN), and Incyte (NASDAQ: INCY) were among the best. The worst among them would have turned a $7,000 investment in 2007 into $130,200 today without you having to add a single dollar to the portfolio.
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Priceline Group (up 2,190%)
The online travel agency has been through some tumultuous times since it went public in 1999, including the tech wreck of 2000, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and the financial crisis of 2007. Each of those were significant not only for the country as a whole, but to Priceline Group in particular, because they impacted its ability to operate.
It goes without saying that the fateful attacks 16 years ago were especially harmful, but the tech wreck saw a lot of flameouts by companies with ".com" in their name (the company used to go by Priceline.com) while the financial markets wreckage wiped out trillions of dollars in value globally and crushed people financially.
Yet Priceline bounced back each time and grew stronger. In just the last five years alone, Priceline's revenue has doubled from $5.2 billion to more than $10.7 billion, helped along the way by numerous acquisitions and expansion of services.
The middle of the Great Recession turned out to be a great time to buy stocks, and a $7,000 investment in Priceline in 2007 would be worth around $153,300 today. It's likely management will continue to display such foresight in buying up more businesses like Booking.com, Agoda, and CarRentals.com, and Priceline Group may yet achieve similar stupendous growth going forward.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (up 2,050%)
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals wasn't always a global biotech leader, but like most small biotechs, it had hope and ambition. Now it has multiple medications that have received marketing approval, with Eylea being the primary moneymaker, generating $3.3 billion in annual product sales. The company has almost $5 billion in total sales. Its first breakthrough came in 2008 when Arcalyst, its therapy for a rare inflammatory disease, was approved, followed in 2011 with approval for Eylea, a treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration. After that, Regeneron was off to the races.
Today, in addition to Arcalyst and Eylea, Regeneron also has Praluent, for clinical atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease; Kevzara, for moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis; and Zaltrap, for metastatic colorectal cancer.
Regeneron has also partnered with both Sanofi and Bayer on its treatments and receives over $1.4 billion annually in collaboration revenues.
It's always difficult to know when a biotech will hit pay dirt, but for the investor smart enough (or lucky enough) to buy in to Regeneron just before Arcalyst was approved, a $7,000 investment would have turned into $143,500. While some of these treatments have only recently been approved, and its agreements with some partners has it recording sales but both companies splitting the profits, Regeneron looks like it has found the path to successful drug approval. Given its current pipeline of more therapies under development, look for it to hit pay dirt again in the future.
Incyte (up 1,860%)
Biopharmaceutical Incyte has only one drug approved for the market in the U.S., Jakafi, which is for the treatment of polycythemia vera or intermediate or high-risk myelofibrosis. But Incyte expects to generate revenue of between $1.02 billion and $1.07 billion on sales of the drug this year.
The biopharma has a second therapy that's sold in Europe, Iclusig, for the treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia. Revenue is much more modest than with Jakafi, forecast to be between $60 million and $65 million.
That makes Incyte something of a one-hit wonder, but in the world of biotechnology, one successful product is sometimes all you need to launch a company into the stratosphere. Of course, Incyte isn't resting on its laurels and has numerous other therapies undergoing clinical testing. It also wasn't an overnight sensation, beginning research in 2003, but not getting FDA approval for Jakafi until November 2011. It was given additional approvals for the treatment in December 2014.
Still, investors who patiently waited for Incyte to succeed were well rewarded, as a $7,000 investment in 2007 is today worth $130,200. Whether it can replicate that success remains to be seen. Although it and partner Eli Lilly seem to be on an expedited course to address FDA concerns about their rheumatoid arthritis treatment baricitinib, there may be competition to Incyte's primary revenue driver, Jakafi, coming soon, so the biotech has some risks surrounding it that might make its stellar track record hard to repeat.
Getting their names up in lights
Netflix may have made it look easy to double and then double again (and again and again) over the years, but Priceline, Regeneron, and Incyte have also shown that it's possible to make significant gains in a relatively short period of time by remaining focused on what they do best.
Investors may needed to show considerable patience at times, but slow and steady wins the race and having a long-term outlook will be the best strategy to see your grubstake explode in value.
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