The stock market’s biggest winners over the last five years have a few things in common, but the biggest, of course, is their eye-popping performance. The stocks in the list below returned investors’ initial investment many times over in just a few years – but what about future gains? The list could foretell future top performers, too, since winners often tend to keep on winning.

Here are the stock market’s 10 best-performing stocks over the last five years.

10 top-performing stocks over the last five years

The table below shows the publicly traded stocks with the highest total returns in the five years up to the measurement date as well as what they returned each year on average. To avoid dubious penny stocks and other suspect companies, we used the following methodology:

  • Market capitalization of at least $1 billion
  • Traded on the Nasdaq or New York Stock Exchange
  • Price above $5 per share

Here are the top-performing stocks that meet these criteria.

Company Total return Average annual return Market capitalization
Source: Charles Schwab. Performance as of Sept. 14, 2023.
Celsius Holdings (CELH) 4,448% 114.6% $15.5 billion
Enphase Energy (ENPH) 2,346% 89.5% $16.7 billion
Axsome Therapeutics (AXSM) 2,068% 85.0% $3.6 billion
Aehr Test Systems (AEHR) 1,741% 79.1% $1.4 billion
Tesla (TSLA) 1,308% 69.7% $877.3 billion
Super Micro Computer (SMCI) 1,225% 67.7% $14.1 billion
Freedom Holding (FRHC) 1,157% 65.9% $5.3 billion
Xpel (XPEL) 1,042% 62.8% $2.1 billion
Lattice Semiconductor (LSCC) 991% 61.3% $12.6 billion
e.l.f. Beauty (ELF) 858% 53.7% $7.1 billion

A few things should be apparent from this list of top-performing stocks:

  • The best-performing stocks can deliver almost unbelievable returns – and quickly! That’s the power of compound growth over time.
  • Despite some seriously impressive returns, most of the stocks are still small-caps or mid-caps, meaning they may yet have a number of good years of growth ahead.
  • Looking backward, today’s biggest mid-cap winners were yesterday’s small-caps.
  • Similarly, today’s biggest small-cap winners were yesterday’s micro-caps.
  • If these winners keep running, they’ll become tomorrow’s best mid-caps and large-caps.
  • The winners are not especially concentrated in one industry, such as tech stocks, though the best tech stocks are some of the market’s best performers overall.

Finally, it should be noted that any stocks that are not still publicly traded as of the date of this screen are omitted from the list. So if, for example, a high-performing company racked up enormous returns but was then acquired by another company a year ago, it’s excluded here.

Should you invest in the best-performing stocks?

The biggest reason for looking at a list of top-performing stocks is that winning stocks often continue winning, even after they’ve become well-known. So you don’t need to lament the fact that you’ve missed the so-called “easy money” and begin to look elsewhere. Instead, you’ll need to dig in to these companies and see if they have more room to run. If so, then an investment today may still deliver excellent returns, regardless of what the stock did in the recent past.

But it can be easy to anchor to those prior gains and assume that they can’t continue or, worse, that they’re guaranteed to continue. Neither is a conclusion you want to jump to. So certainly don’t assume that a high-performing stock can’t still run higher for years, if not decades.

Every mega-cap stock was once a large-cap, and every large-cap was once a mid-cap, and so on. Every redwood was once an acorn, and you needn’t buy at the bottom to make a bundle.

However, if you’re going to buy individual stocks, you’ll need to research and analyze them, not blindly buy the best performers. That requires a lot of time and energy, and few people want to spend those precious resources. Instead, it may be easier to buy a diversified index fund, such as one based on the S&P 500 index, which has returned 10 percent on average over time.

With an S&P 500 index fund you’ll get hundreds of the market’s top performers, and you’ll end up beating more than 90 percent of investors, if you take a buy-and-hold approach.

Bottom line

The stock market’s biggest winners can be a great place to find future returns, since winners often keep on winning. Of course, past performance is no guarantee of future performance. But the market’s best stocks tend to have a multi-decade record of growth, so even if you don’t get in on the ground floor, there’s often still time for you to make a bundle on a well-known stock.

Editorial Disclaimer: All investors are advised to conduct their own independent research into investment strategies before making an investment decision. In addition, investors are advised that past investment product performance is no guarantee of future price appreciation.