Though fierce competitors in the marketplace, Google and Apple have much in common. They innovate, make sexy products, and have been terrific investments. Google has more than doubled in the past five years and Apple has quadrupled! Any investor would (and should) be happy with that kind of payback.
Both companies also have something else in common: they receive huge amounts of media attention, with the only thing getting more attention than new products being rumors of new products! But guess which of these less attention-grabbing companies have posted an even better return than either of those two superstars of Silicon Valley?
A) Under Armour
B) Biogen Idec
Answer: All of them!
Yep, beer and wine (Constellation), oil (Pioneer), medicine (Biogen) and stretchy athletic clothes (Under Armour) have all trumped smartphones and new technologies as investments since 2009, many by a wide margin.
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Constellation is up 500 percent in five years, and that is the worst of the four performers listed above. Biogen and Pioneer are each up more than 600 percent and Under Armour is up more than 1,000 percent over five years!
The list doesn't end there. There are actually a number of companies that have posted better returns than Apple or Google over that time, including Netflix, Priceline and Chipotle. But those names also (deservedly) receive much attention from us media types and are better known for their investment prowess.
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This little exercise is not designed to take anything away from Apple or Google. Both are amazing companies. Rather, it's just a simple reminder that great investments come in many shapes and sizes, often off the front page.
Something to think about the next time you're sipping a glass of Mondavi in your golf shirt.
—Commentary by CNBC's Brian Sullivan. Follow him on Twitter