The Beginner’s Guide to Investing

Amazon, Apple and Google stock rose over the last 10 years, but this company outperformed them all

If you invested $1,000 in Amazon or Apple 10 years ago, that investment would have seriously paid off. According to personal finance website DQYDJ, an initial $1,000 investment in those companies in 2008 would be worth $16,239 and $8,587, respectively, as of January 16.

If you invested $1,000 in Google in the same time frame, it would have paid off, too. According to DQYDJ, GOOGL would be worth $3,660 as of January 16 and GOOG would be worth $2,008. (Google's stock split into two classes in 2014: GOOGL: Alphabet Class A and GOOG: Alphabet Class C.)

Still, the data shows that one company significantly outperformed Amazon, Apple and either class of Alphabet: Netflix. As of January 16, a $1,000 investment in the video-streaming service would be worth a whopping $70,263.

Netflix first launched its streaming service in 2007, began producing original content in 2013 and has grown its subscriber base to nearly 120 million accounts worldwide.

The company also added more than eight million subscribers in the fourth quarter, CNBC reports, significantly more than Wall Street expectations, and its shares have jumped more than 8 percent, bringing its market capitalization above $100 billion for the first time.

The company plans to spend $7.5-8 billion on content in 2018, including shows from titan Shonda Rhimes and comic book company Millarworld. "We believe our big investments in content are paying off," the company wrote in a letter to shareholders.

But while Netflix's stock has performed well and the company has high hopes for the future, any individual stock can over- or under-perform. Past returns do not predict future results.

Plus, there are some challenges on the horizon. Competitors, such as Disney, which has agreed to buy 21st Century Fox assets, could potentially pull viewers from Netflix with plans to launch their own streaming services.

Disney's deal with Fox would give the combined company a stake in Netflix's rival, Hulu. In addition, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and YouTube have added more content to their respective platforms.

So some investors are bearish. Jim Cramer, host of CNBC's "Mad Money," though, isn't one of them. With Netflix raising the monthly cost for its streaming service and adding more original content to complement already popular shows like "The Crown" and "Stranger Things," Cramer, in October, said the company could accelerate its growth even further.

Ted Sarandos, Netflix's chief content officer, said he doesn't want to get "too distracted by the competitive landscape." The company agrees. "The market for entertainment time is vast and can support many services," it notes. "Entertainment services are often complementary, given their unique content offerings. We believe this is largely why both we and Hulu have been able to succeed and grow."

If you're considering getting into the stock market, experts advise beginning carefully.

Experienced investors Warren Buffett, Mark Cuban and Tony Robbins suggest you start with index funds, which offer low turnover rates, attendant fees and tax bills, and fluctuate with the market to eliminate the risk of picking individual stocks.

DQYDJ's stock return calculator tool, which gathers its numbers from data-platform Quandl, properly accounts for stock splits and special dividends by creating a "data structure [that] contains the initial purchase and the price fluctuations using stock closing prices on each day," according to the site. "Normal splits and dividend events cause us to increase the modeled number of shares held. Reverse splits will reduce the number of shares held."

The results are cached for up to one week so as not to overwhelm the data provider. The calculator does not account stock spinoffs. And while it does have a reinvestment tool, Netflix's closing number, above, does not account for reinvestments.

"Returns calculated are idealized and will not match the exact returns you realized if you invested over these time-frames," the site adds. "We are not modeling taxes, management fees, dividend payment timing, slippage or other sources of error."

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