Spread bets and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 77% of retail investor accounts lose money when spread betting and/or trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how spread bets and CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

Biggest Stock Returns In History

What are the most successful stocks in history? Read below to see which companies provided traders and investors with some of the highest returns.

The biggest penny stock returns in history

When the S&P 500 is used as a benchmark, the average stock market return is 10% per year. That's a solid rate of return and one that all professional traders would be happy with. Naturally, the average return on stocks will vary from industry to industry. What's more, there will be ups and downs along the way. The point here though is that 10% is a reasonable benchmark and stock returns exceeding that for a long period of time can be considered impressive.

When you scan the financial markets for potential trading opportunities, some stocks stand out more than others. For example, penny stocks have some of the highest historical stock market returns. A company can fall into this category if the stock trades for pennies, as the name suggests, but generally, anything under the $5 can be considered a penny stock.These stocks typically carry more risk because they're either in new companies or niche industries. However, the potential upside of accepting more risk is better returns.

Indeed, as you'll see in the following list, the average stock market returns in companies like Apple can exceed 150,000%. That's significant. Naturally, nothing is guaranteed. No stocks are guaranteed to provide a positive return. However, in return for a certain amount of risk, the following companies provided traders and investors with some of the highest return stocks in history.

*Disclaimer: Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results

Success stories: Above average stock returns 

Stock market success stories aren’t written every day. Some stocks soar, and some fall. Using information available on Yahoo Finance, we identified some of the biggest penny stocks that have seen notable gains. However, the following selection of companies shows the type of stock returns that are potentially possible when you trade:

Apple (AAPL)

  • Initial Share Price: $22
  • Lowest Price: $0.0388
  • Peak Price: $182.13
  • Stock Returns Increase from Low to High: 154,900.40%
  • Highest Day Return 10th October 1987: 35.93%

Apple is not only one of the biggest tech companies in the world, it’s one of the biggest companies in history. Founder Steve Jobs always believed his Mac computers, iPods and smartphones would change the world. Others took longer to believe that its average return on stocks would be worth their time. As such, the Apple share price sank below $0.10 in 2002. However, after multiple years of unparalleled growth, Apple stock market returns by year increased dramatically. By becoming one of the biggest companies in the world after the share price dropped to $0.10, Apple's average return on stocks has skyrocketed to 154,000%, achieving an all-time high for its holders in January 2022.

Those who participated in spread betting or CFD trading with Apple stocks on 10th October 1987 saw the highest day return, recorded at 35.93%.*

Amazon (AMZN)

  • Initial Share Price: $1.51
  • Lowest Price: $1.31
  • Peak Price: $3,773.08
  • Stock Returns Increase from Low to High: 287,472.76%
  • Highest Day Return 1st September 1998: 33.27%

Like Apple, Amazon is one of the most successful stocks in history. Founder Jeff Bezos believed he could revolutionise the retail industry, even when few others did. The Amazon share price had an initial spike after two years but tailed off in 2002. The dot.com boom followed, and Amazon became the world’s largest retailer. That's an average stock market return of over 287,000%.

Traders who bought into Amazon stocks on 1st September 1998 saw the highest percentage return at 33.27%.*

Apple Graphic
Amazon Graphic

Snap Inc (SNAP)

  • Initial Share Price: $22.70
  • Lowest Price: $4.82
  • Peak Price: $79.32
  • Stock Returns Increase from Low to High: 1,645.64%

The owners of the messaging platform Snapchat, Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, entered the stock market in 2017 with its price peaking in 2021. However, after opening at more than $22, it dropped under $5. Now, with over 300 million active daily users and revenue topping $4 billion, Snap Inc has generated an average return on stocks of more than 1,600%.

Spread betters and CFD traders saw the highest return during the week of 12th to 19th October 2020 as the return was 61.58%.*

Meta Platforms Inc (FB)

  • Initial Share Price: $28.89
  • Lowest Price: $17.54
  • Peak Price: $384.32
  • Stock Returns Increase from Low to High: 2,158.40%
  • Highest Day Return 18th May 2012: 18.42%

Facebook has evolved from a social media platform into one of the largest tech companies in the world. Under the guidance of founder Mark Zuckerberg, Meta has bought major messaging platforms, allocated its resources in virtual reality and spawned the Metaverse. These innovations have made it one of the highest return stocks in the world.

Meta saw its largest spike on May 18th 2012 when the stock price rose 18.42%, the day when the company went public.*

Snapchat Graphic
Meta-Platforms Graphic

Tesla (TSLA)

  • Initial Share Price: $5
  • Lowest Price: $3.22
  • Peak Price: $1,234.41
  • Stock Returns Increase from Low to High: 41,505.01%
  • Highest Week Return 26th January - 2nd February 2021: 79.66%

Tesla has been through more difficulties than most companies. However, under the guidance of Elon Musk, Tesla has turned the dream of electric cars into reality. This has pushed Tesla’s value over the $1 trillion mark and made Musk, one of the major shareholders, among the richest people globally.

Spread betters and CFD traders saw the highest return during the week 26th January to 2nd February 2021 as the return was 79.66%.*

AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc (AMC)

  • Initial Share Price: $20.62
  • Lowest Price: $2.60
  • Peak Price: $59.26
  • Stock Returns Increase from Low to High: 2,179.23%
  • Highest Day Return 28th January 2021: 153.46%

AMC is the largest movie theatre operator in the US, but, because of the pandemic, it almost went into administration in 2020. However, like GameStop, it went from the brink of ruin to one of the highest return stocks in history after social media users got behind it. Known as “apes”, the traders pushed the AMC share price to a high of more than $59.

Regarding return rates, 28th January 2021 was the highest return, reaching 153.46% for short-term traders who had optimal market exposure.*

Tesla Graphic
AMC Graphic

GameStop Corp. (GME)

  • Initial Share Price: $9.52
  • Lowest Price: $2.57
  • Peak Price: $291.51
  • Stock Returns Increase from Low to High: 11,342.80%
  • Highest Week Return 20th - 29th January 2021: 1,239.43%

GameStop is a games retailer that experienced a surge thanks to a push by Reddit users in 2021. With thousands of amateur traders taking positions against institutional short sellers, GameStop shares increased in value by more than 11,000%. One of the biggest winners from the GameStop surge was Keith Gill, who made almost $8 million. For this reason, GameStop has earned a place in our list of highest return stocks in history.

Moreover, CFD traders andspread betters who positioned in late January 2021 (20th-29th) saw the biggest returns, which reached 1,239.43%.*

Netflix Inc (NFLX)

  • Initial Share Price: $1.08
  • Lowest Price: $0.99
  • Peak Price: $682.61
  • Stock Returns Increase from Low to High: 54,840%
  • Highest Week Return 23rd - 30th May 2021: 496.71%

Netflix went from being a DVD company that couldn’t get funding from Blockbuster to the largest online streaming platform in the world. With over 220 million subscribers and annual revenue topping $29 billion, Netflix's average stock market return over the last decade is 54,840%.

Short term traders who traded between the 23rd and 30th May 2021 had a 496.71% gain.*

GameStop Graphic
Netflix Graphic

*Disclaimer: Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results

The importance of research

Your trades might not soar like the companies listed above. However, these success stories show that bull runs can happen when you’re trading on penny stocks. You should always do the necessary research, trade wisely, and avoid moves based on emotion. It's also worth remembering that there will be ups and downs.

Data Source: Google Finance