The resident number crunchers at CNBC took a look at the current members of the large-cap S&P 500 index and sorted the list by percent change since Feb. 2, 1998. Many of the stocks on the list weren't part of the index back in 1998, but have risen to become some of the biggest companies in America.
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Among the best performers are companies like Apple, which comes in at No. 4 on the list of top performers. On a split-adjusted basis, shares were trading at around 63 cents when the S&P 500 first crossed the 1,000 mark. After a vigorous and transformational set of product debuts and launches, the tech giant is now trading at record prices, over $101 per share.
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That's good enough for a near 16,000 percent return during that time frame. Apple is the most valuable company in the world, worth $609 billion.
No. 3 on the list is large-cap biotech company Celgene, which is focused on treatments for cancer and other serious diseases. Back in early 1998, shares were trading at a split-adjusted 35 cents per share. Today, Celgene is trading at more than $93 per share, resulting in a gain of over 26,600 percent and yielding a market cap of $75 billion.
The top of the list belongs to a couple of consumer staples companies, both of whom are in the nonalcoholic beverage business. The runner-up on our list of top performers is Keurig Green Mountain. The maker of single serve coffee and tea products was a 28-cent stock for S&P 1K.
Today, it's more than $132 and worth $22 billion, good enough for a 47,600 percent gain. Of course, more recently, a large investment from the likes of Coca-Cola has helped juice that performance figure.
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