The Aughts’ 10 Biggest Stocks

The aughts were no “lost decade” for stock investors, Cramer said during Wednesday’s “Mad Money.” To prove his point, he highlighted the top performers of the last decade:

  • Intuitive Surgical , up 1,407 percent
  • Coach , up 1,507 percent
  • CarMax , up 1,663 percent
  • Cognizant Technology Solutions , up 2,285 percent
  • Southwestern Energy , up 2,601 percent
  • Cliffs Natural Resources , up 2,671 percent
  • Urban Outfitters , up 3,599 percent
  • FLIR Systems , up 3,789 percent
  • Apple , up 4,206 percent
  • , up 4,962 percent.

“The outsized gains in these names are proof positive that stock picking matters,” Cramer said, “that managing your own portfolio, if you do it correctly, works a whole lot better than passively, brainlessly putting your money in index funds that merely mimic the broader averages, averages which have done nothing or gone down over the same period where these stocks were skyrocketing … Not every pick can be a winner, but owning just one of these stocks would have been enough to offset a portfolio full of losers.”

What do all these stocks have in common?

“They’re game-changers,” Cramer said.

Apple launched its i-products—the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Intuitive Surgical built its Da Vinci surgical machine, which allows for minimally invasive procedures that get people out of the hospital faster and keep health-care costs down. FLIR Systems sold the infrared cameras and night-vision systems that are essential to national defense today. And even Urban Outfitters, a retailer, innovated and grew by developing new concept stores that have proved enormously successful.

Each in their own way, all 10 of these companies transformed their industries. So if you want an idea of what will work this decade, look for similar stories. Sure, the themes will change, but the underlying thesis will not. And come 2020 we should find once again that the smartest investors buy stocks.

When this story published, Cramer's charitable trust owned Apple and Southwestern Energy.

Call Cramer: 1-800-743-CNBC

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