With the benefit of hindsight, you really should have invested in Netflix 10 years ago, when $1000 would have made you a 4,030 per cent return today.

More likely to surprise are the laggards — an investment in Facebook would ‘only’ have returned 360 per cent, according to an IG Markets tally.

IG Markets’ tally of the 20 most popular companies its investors like to buy. Pic: IG Markets

In Australia, the companies you should have put a speccie $1000 into are still not household names or well known outside their industry.

Here’s a table of the top 20 returners on the ASX: 

Scroll or swipe to reveal table. Click headings to sort.

Code Name Sector Price Jan 20, 2010 ($) Price Jan 20, 2020 ($) Return Market cap ($)
NST NORTHERN STAR RESOURCES LTD Resources 0.03 12.28 49030% 9.01B
ALU ALTIUM LTD Software 0.26 38.44 18870% 5.03B
MFG MAGELLAN FINANCIAL GROUP LTD Finance 0.83 63.32 10090% 11.54B
AKP AUDIO PIXELS HOLDINGS LTD Technology 0.18 15.89 8730% 449.71M
HIT HITECH GROUP AUSTRALIA LTD Recruitment 0.03 1.3 7220% 49.47M
PNV POLYNOVO LTD Health 0.03 2.45 7110% 1.62B
MNF MNF GROUP LTD Telecommunications 0.09 4.96 6970% 417.53M
MVP MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS INTERNA Health 0.17 9.29 6370% 609.49M
JIN JUMBO INTERACTIVE LTD Entertainment 0.4 16.32 5680% 1.02B
CYL CATALYST METALS LTD Resources 0.07 2.95 4110% 243.08M
PME PRO MEDICUS LTD Health 0.89 26.43 3480% 2.75B
SMN STRUCTURAL MONITORING-CDI Technology hardware & equipment 0.03 0.89 2570% 104.24M
AEF AUSTRALIAN ETHICAL INVT LTD Finance 0.31 5.2 2450% 582.88M
AMA AMA GROUP LTD Services 0.06 0.95 2230% 698.92M
SNL SUPPLY NETWORK LTD Retail 0.37 4.28 2210% 174.46M
OCL OBJECTIVE CORPORATION LTD Software 0.38 5.99 2160% 558.06M
EOL ENERGY ONE LTD Software 0.17 3.05 1840% 67.73M
FNP FREEDOM FOODS GROUP LTD Food 0.32 5.18 1730% 1.42B
BRG BREVILLE GROUP LTD Retail 1.7 19.4 1580% 2.53B
PPK PPK GROUP LTD Capital goods 0.47 5.62 1560% 478.27M
TNE TECHNOLOGY ONE LTD Software 0.79 9.13 1470% 2.91B

Furthermore, despite Australian investors’ penchant for resources companies this sector hasn’t delivered a matching number of blockbuster Netflix-like returners.

For many companies on this list, the fact they’re not well known is because they are not companies serving consumer products, such as Northern Star Resources (ASX:NST) or Australian-listed US firm Altium (ASX:ALU), which makes PC-based electronics design software for engineers who design printed circuit boards.

Even though Northern Star just bought the storied Super Pit gold mine in Kalgoorlie and the Altium stock has been running since 2015, they’re likely to be as memorable for most average Australians as the name of the current prime minister.

Some companies have a story that investors keep buying.

Audio Pixels (ASX:AKP) is a half-million-dollar company with no product and little liquidity.

Yet a hard core of investors continue to buy the story of a one-of-a-kind digital speaker that can direct sound waves in one single direction, and save the rest of us on the train from Ed Sheeran’s latest song.

For a number of the top 20 returners, their ascent has been recent and swift which accounts for their relative anonymity.

PolyNovo (ASX:PNV) shares have been running since early 2019 and last year was one of the blockbuster biotech stocks on the ASX, with its burns and wound care treatment.

It’s a similar story at online gambling company Jumbo Interactive (ASX:JIN) which went from small cap to large cap in the blink of an eye, when its plans for growth began to become apparent in 2018, and investors really began to notice in 2019.

The lesson Australian investors could take away may be that picking long-term winners on the ASX is a lot harder than backing the latest Silicon Valley gem.