The Best Investments You Wish You’d Spotted

The best investments you wish you’d spotted may have got away from you because you didn’t realise how the world would change over time.

With hindsight, shares in Ford, Coca Cola, McDonalds, Disney and Tesco would have been good buys, if a little left field, in their early days.

Technology is the Golden Goose

Technology stocks are perceived as big money earners. Facebook’s 2012 flotation may be a ticket to fortune, but some pundits believe it’s past its prime, as is the way with technology: things move fast.

Microsoft was one some didn’t believe would last. $21 shares in March 1986 would be worth around $8000 today. Although it has been higher, a $10,000 stake then is worth about $3 million today.

Apple is even more impressive. If instead of buying an iPod when they were released in October 2001 you’d invested the $400 in Apple stock, today you would be holding an investment return of over $16,000, almost 4000%.

The same test with other Apple products produces stunning results. The iMac G5, cost $1300 in August 04 (that would be now worth $27,000); the MacMini, 2005, $500 now worth $5500; and the iPhone in June 07 at $400 on a 2 year contract, now worth over $1100 (193% return).

Even the $500 for the 2010 iPad would have increased share value to $750 (50% and rising). If you had spotted the brilliance of James Dyson’s bagless vacuum cleaner in the early 1970s, you’d be worth millions. He himself is worth over £2 billion according to Forbes.

Fine Living

Gold (£200 per oz in 2003, now around £1100), rare stamps (1856 British Guyana 1 cent black on red, last auctioned in 1980 for almost $1m) and wine (1787 bottle of Bordeaux Chateau Lafite, last sold 1985 for £105,000 now almost beyond price as collectible, not drink) are among luxuries you wish you’d spotted.

If you know what you like in art – Paul Cezanne’s 1892 Card Players, worth a few pounds originally, sold in 2011 for $250 million. To buy a Lucien Freud or a David Hockney today is beyond the pockets of many investors. The trick is to spot emerging artists before others do, while they’re still relatively cheap.

You might even wish you’d invested in a lottery ticket. The highest win on a single ticket was $177 million in Feb 2006 on the US Powerball game, claimed by a syndicate of eight. The largest UK winner for a £1 ticket was an anonymous person in EuroMillions, October 10, with £113 million.