How Rich You'd Be If You'd Invested $1000 in These Companies

Hindsight is a terrible thing when it comes to investments. After all, if investing was an easy way to get rich, we’d all be living in mansions because we’d all have put some money in and walked away with a lot more of it. Of course, it doesn’t work like that and even the most cautious or skillful investors get burned every now and then by an unexpected collapse. What keeps them playing the investment game is that thrill of when they get it just right.

One of the most potentially lucrative - and therefore risky - times to invest is when a company first goes public with the initial public offering (IPO) of its stock. Investing in an IPO can be a rollercoaster ride with dizzying heights and terrifying drops, but if you’d put your money into a Google or Amazon at the right time, you could be sitting on a goldmine by now.

For example, a $1k investment in Amazon at the time of its IPO in 1997, your stock would be worth more than $1m today. And that’s not the biggest success story out there in terms of what your money could have earned you. Here’s some of America’s best known companies and what a $1k investment would be worth today if you’d been wise - or lucky - enough to have gotten in on the ground floor.

$267K. That's what a $1000 investment into Netflix's IPO would look like today (If only somebody told us that back in 2002 😭). While investing in a company's initial public offering can be a risky play, the payoff can be massive... if the company succeeds. From McDonald's and Starbucks to Tesla and Nike, here's a look at 47 well-known companies to find what an early $1,000 investment into their IPOs would amount to today.

Automotive companies

Way back in 1956, when Ford made its first appearance on the US stock exchange, a $1k investment would have been a big deal for most people but would it be worth a lot more now? Well, Ford has had its ups and downs over the last couple of decades, so while it’s still a big name, the value of its stock currently means you’d only actually get $4k back. It’s better than a flat tyre, but not much to write home about.

Where the big bucks are in the automotive industry, perhaps surprisingly, is in Harley Davidson. The iconic motorbike brand went public in 1986 and $1k worth of stock then would get you an incredible $114k now, more than enough to buy your own midlife crisis hog. One of the fastest growing stocks at the moment though is Tesla, which had a 2010 IPO and has grown at a rate of roughly 37% a year, though its stock prices can occasionally be at the whim of eccentric founder Elon Musk’s public pronouncements.

Electronics companies

Silicon Valley has long been a source of American wealth and that dates back to the 1950s when Hewlett-Packard went public, having been founded in a garage in 1939. However, while the company has come a long way since then, it’s not been a fast grower in terms of stock value. Indeed, with an average annual growth of only around 1%, it’s the slowest growing company featured here and $1k would now be worth… $1.7k, which probably isn’t enough to even buy your own garage.

Delivery service companies

When it comes to deliveries there’s one name that has eclipsed all the rest and that’s Amazon. It could fit into many other categories here, but how many other companies deliver as many items around the world as Amazon? Back in 1997 when it went public, that was far from the case, as it was just a very successful online bookstore, which is why a $1k investment back then would be worth an incredible $1.43m now. Compared to that, eBay’s rise to $37.2k seems insignificant, though not many of us would complain too much about that kind of return on an investment.

Fashion companies

Nike was 14 years old when it went public in 1980 and it’s certainly done well for itself since then. If you’d had $1k to invest 40 years ago and stuck with it until now you would be $518k richer. Other big names that you might have thought would earn a big dividend would be Ralph Lauren or Capri, but both are at the lower end of the scale, while Gap and Tiffany & Co both would have earned you more than respectable money for your investment.

Food and drink companies

Some of America’s biggest brands fit in this category and because many of them date back a long way, they represent a great investment for anyone who got in on the ground floor. Take McDonalds, which went public in 1965 when it had over 500 locations. Today it has more than 38,000 and that $1k you could have made would be worth $6.28m now, while Coca-Cola went public way back in 1919 and your $1k would have earned you $1.3m, though you’d probably be too old to really enjoy the benefits of all that money.

Financial services companies

By far the oldest company from this sector, American Express’s public offering dates back to 1979 and $1k investment from then would get you $48.7k today. A much more rapid rise can be seen with the Mastercard IPO from 2006, which has yielded the fifth largest average annual return of all the companies featured here - 37.4%. In investment terms, that’s a return of $71.5k, which is especially impressive given the financial downturn that happened two years later. The same can be said for VISA, which may have only risen to $16.4k but has still has the eighth highest average annual return of all the companies on the list.

Media companies

Set up in a garage in the early 20th Century, Disney has gone on to become an all-conquering multimedia behemoth. So it’s no surprise that it’s top of the pile overall here in terms of investment, having gone public in 1957, with $1k of investment now worth a mindblowing $8.8m. Its modern day streaming rival Netflix launched its IPO in 2002 when it was still mailing out DVDs, and unsurprisingly a $1k investment has shot up to being worth $267 in those 18 years.

Tech companies

Investing in tech ‘unicorns’ is a very 21st century way to get rich, but these results show that none of the big names in modern technology have really transformed a $1k investment into much worth shouting about. Indeed, fans of Snapchat who thought it would be a Facebook-killer have had a painful journey since its IPO in 2017. Right now that $1k would be worth around $632. Facebook itself and Twitter have both at least made investors money, but Microsoft is the king in this field, with a return of $1.97m.

Travel companies

Priceline and Expedia both launched their IPOs in 1999 in the midst of the dotcom bubble, but have had varying fortunes since then. Priceline has gone from strength to strength, buying up other brands, most notably in 2005, changing its name to Booking Holdings in 2018. Its stock has increased at an annual average rate of 38%, so a $1k investment from 1999 would be worth $762k. Meanwhile, Expedia, which was arguably the bigger name at the time of its IPO, has only risen to a comparatively weak $19.6k.

Now that you’ve seen how much stock in some of these companies has shot up over the years (sorry Snapchat...), has it inspired you to look around for what you could spend $1k on to potentially change your life?

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