NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- If you invested in the following 10 stocks 10 years ago and held on to them throughout the financial meltdown, you'd be the financial genius of the decade.
Joy Global (JOY - Get Report), Priceline.com (PCLN) and Cliffs Natural Resources (CLF - Get Report) are among those that have risen the most. All of the 10 top-performing shares have turned $1,000 into at least $12,000.
Meanwhile, if that $1,000 would have been invested in the benchmark S&P 500 Index, it would have lost 19% of its value. Most of the decline would have occurred during the Great Recession, when the S&P 500 plummeted starting in the fall of 2008. The benchmark index is now at the highest level since summer 2008 as the U.S. and, now, Europe have adopted monetary policies to fuel a rally in riskier assets.
The top 10 stocks of the past decade represent a wide range of sectors. Energy firms and companies that offer unique products to their consumers have fared the best. Some could very well be great stocks to own over the next decade. Others will rely on trends in China or government regulation to mimic the growth they recorded in the past decade.The 10 best-performing components of the S&P 500 have gained between 1,290% to 4,900%, topped by none other than Apple (AAPL - Get Report), maker of the iPod, iPhone and iPad. In the reverse order of performance, here are the S&P 500's 10 best-performing stocks of the decade: