The last decade produced the longest-running bull market in history, but the fruits were not shared evenly. While U.S. markets soared, the S&P/TSX Composite Index underperformed, weighed down by the poor showings from energy and materials stocks. Nevertheless, there were a handful of companies here at home that rewarded investors handsomely — if they were savvy enough to hold them for the full 10 years. Now that the decade has come to a close, here’s a look back at the 10 S&P/TSX Composite Index stocks that netted investors the highest returns, including dividends.
Boyd Group Income Fund: 4,247 per cent
Investors likely wouldn’t expect this level of return from an autobody-shop conglomerate based in Winnipeg, but the Boyd Group has stealthily become one of the TSX’s best growth stocks. As the decade began, the company was riddled in debt and trading just above $5. When Brock Bulbuck took over as chief executive in 2010, the company pivoted to a consolidation strategy and its stock — now trading above $200 — hasn’t looked back.
Constellation Software Inc: 4,064 per cent
Like Boyd, Constellation is a consolidator with an aggressive growth-by-acquisition strategy that sees it gobble up small tech startups in niche markets. The stock has risen steadily since 2010 — so steadily, in fact, that it has suffered through only one 20 per cent decline during the entire 10 years.
Air Canada: 3,663 per cent
In 2012, Air Canada was trading at a little more than a dollar and, weighed down by a toxic balance sheet, appeared to be heading for a second bankruptcy. But since then chief executive Calin Rovinescu has overseen a remarkable turnaround, eliminating a multi-billion dollar pension deficit, transforming the airline into an international carrier and bringing the company’s books back into the black. The stock has taken flight, too, touching the $50 mark in November.
Cargojet Inc.: 1,555 per cent
The overnight cargo airline has been one of the runaway success stories of the past decade. Once an income fund that traded below $10, it has ridden the rise of e-commerce to new heights, signing a billion-dollar deal with Canada Post and most recently, entering into a partnership with Amazon.com Inc. It ends the decade on a high note, trading above $100.
InterRent Real Estate Invest Trust: 1,442 per cent
InterRent’s formula is a simple one. The apartment REIT buys older and mismanaged units on the cheap in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal and completely renovates them, allowing it to charge much more in rent than the buildings’ previous owners. Although REITs are typically conservative investments, the upward trajectory of InterRent’s stock mirrors the growth the company has made in the past decade, more than doubling the number of units it owns and operates.
Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. Class B: 1,186 per cent
Couche-Tard has become the second-largest convenience store operator in the world in the last decade and has done so mostly through consolidation. Its largest deal in the M&A market was sealed in 2017, when it acquired CST Brands Inc. for US$4.4 billion and added another 2,000 stores across the U.S. and Eastern Canada to its books. And chief executive Brian Hannasch isn’t done there. Though a recent US$7.7 billion offer for Australia-based Caltex Australia Ltd. was rejected, there are sure to be more on the way.
Enghouse Systems Ltd.: 1,167 per cent
If you haven’t heard of Enghouse Systems, you aren’t alone. With a focus on enterprise communications software they aren’t in the public eye, but that is of little concern to investors who have reaped a tidy four-digit return over the past decade. The $2.6-billion software company operates like Constellation Software though on a smaller scale, making multiple acquisitions per year to fuel its incredible growth story.
Dollarama Inc.: 1,096 per cent
Dollarama IPO’d in the wake of the financial crisis and has thrived due to a significant portion of its customer base now being made up of middle-class consumers. In 2014, the stock gained close to 60 per cent on the back of the news that the discount chain would be pursuing an expansion strategy that would see its store count boosted by 50 per cent. Dollarama had 800 stores then and now operates over 1,200.
CCL Industries Inc. Class B: 1,036 per cent
Investing thousands of dollars in a label-maker doesn’t sound too exciting for an investor with their eyes on the latest cutting-edge tech companies — that is, until they see that that label maker has returned more than 1,000 per cent in the past decade. CCL calls itself the world’s largest label maker and has been able to accomplish that feat through acquisitions that have seen it more than double its revenues since 2014. The company also pays out a quarterly dividend, which now stands at 17 cents per common share.
Premium Brands Holdings Corp.: 970 per cent
In little more than three years between 2015 and 2018, Premium Brands netted investors close to 400 per cent in returns. Like many of the top performers on this list, the food manufacturer actively pursued acquisitions while also offering investors a quarterly dividend of 52 cents per common share as of the end of September 2019. After reaching its all-time high of just over $120 in April 2018, the stock declined by more than 40 per cent in the next eight months and has yet to retest its prior levels more than a year later.