Winners of 2008: Stocks That Beat the Market Mess

The stock market suffered steep losses in 2008, but some companies managed to defy the odds and ended the year with impressive gains.

CNBC interviewed four executives whose companies survived the malaise of 2008, to find out the secrets of their success.

Royal Gold: Up 50 Percent

"We receive our revenues free of cost, which is a very advantageous way to own gold...If the mine adds reserves or steps up its production we get the benefit of that, and of course we aren’t contributing to the capital or the operating costs."

- Executive ChairmanStanley Dempsey, Royal Gold

Granite Construction: Up 10 Percent

"We have grown our business across this country...We’re involved in some of the largest projects in the United States, for example we’re part of a team rebuilding the transit station underneath the World Trade Center, and we’ll come to your driveway in some locations in the West."

- CEO William Dorey, Granite Construction

First Niagara: Up 30 Percent

“We’ve been consistent, (and) we’ve been strong and steady in the marketplace throughout these very challenging and unpredictable times...We’re up 6,000 or 7,000 new customers, so it’s not just the level of activity...It’s the fact that new customers are coming in the door and that we’re able to attract and grow our business and our portfolio.”

- CEO John Koelmel, First Niagara Financial Group

Cubist Pharmaceuticals: Up 17 Percent

“We’re broadening the guardrails a little bit as our financial capacity increases, and we’re building a robust pipeline of products that if successful will allow us to continue to grow revenues and earnings beyond this lead product, Cubicin."

- CEO Michael Bonney, Cubist Pharmaceuticals

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