Today is the day: That's right, the day featured in part II of the cult classic sci-fi trilogy Back to the Future has finally arrived. And while the 2015 depicted in the trilogy (which ran from 1985 to 1990) is very different from the 2015 we are currently living in (although, the strides we've taken in hoverboard technology have proven quite impressive), it nevertheless shows that a lot can happen in 30 years. It's true with people, it's true with technology, and it's especially true with publicly traded businesses. The thing is, if Marty McFly hadn't been so preoccupied running from cybertronic Biff, keeping his doppelganger son out of trouble, and buying his 2015 Sportsman's Almanac, he might've taken note of some of the major corporations that were in business in 2015, remembering to jump on their initial public offerings (IPOs) as soon as he returned to 1985. Of course, like with all time-travel-related fiction, there needs to be a few ground rules. You may think these rules are arbitrary, but when you think about it, so is the whole theory behind why Marty can't run into past or future versions of himself: "the encounter could create a time paradox, the result of which could cause a chain reaction that would unravel the very fabric of the space time continuum, and destroy the entire universe!" Nevertheless, the rules drive the plot, just as they drive this post: Rule #1: The company's IPO (initial public offering) needs date back to 1985. No sooner. No later. Rule #2: The company needs to have appeared on the Fortune 500 list at least once. Rule #3: The company must still be in business today. With that in mind, let's assume for a second that 17-year-old Marty McFly was a savvy investor, and upon returning home from the future he sold his music equipment, his skateboard, everything he owned, and was able to save around $10,000 to invest: Best Buy IPO (1985): $13.50 Price per Share (2015): $35.31 Although Best Buy didn't appear on the New York Stock Exchange until 1987, the company officially went public in 1985 - so we're counting it. How Best Buy Looked in 1985 Best Buy got its start long before 1985, before Marty was even born. Founded in 1966 by Richard M. Schulze and a partner, Best Buy was originally called Sound of Music, an electronics store specializing in hi-fi stereo systems. Sound of Music's 20-year growth was exponential; by 1983, the company had seven stores and pulled in about $10 million in annual sales. Later that year, the company would be rebranded as Best Buy Company, Inc., and in another 10 years, it would break the $1 billion annual sales mark. The thing is, Marty, a resident of Hill Valley, CA, would probably never have heard of Best Buy (or Sound of Music for that matter), as the company got its start in St. Paul, MN, roughly 2,000 miles away. So investing in this company would have been unlikely. If Marty Invested His $10,000 If Marty invested his $10,000 in Best Buy at $13.50/share, he would have effectively bought 740 shares. In the 30 years since Best Buy has gone public, the corporation has experienced eight different stock splits - meaning investor receive additional shares proportional to their current number of shares. So, if Marty has sat on his investment clear through to 2015, he would essentially have ended with 59,940 shares! If Marty decided to sell his stock in Best Buy today at the current price per share of $35.31, he would stand to make (adjusting for inflation) $4,684,588.18! In conclusion, Marty likely would have made more money off of investing in a place that sold other people's music rather than trying to make it big with his band. Costco IPO (1985): $10.00 Price per Share (2015): $154.56 As with Best Buy, Costco's first appearance on a major stock exchange (in this case, the NASDAQ) took place several months following its initial public offering. How Costco Looked in 1985 Costco got its start in 1976 in San Diego, CA. Originally called Price Club, the company had a unique value proposition that had never been seen before: retail warehouse club. The concept was simple, for an annual club fee, everyday consumers could gain access to warehouse or wholesale prices at retail convenience. Price Club's first warehouse had so much inventory, that it was housed in an old airplane hanger formerly owned by Howard Hughes (and that warehouse is still open today under the Costco name). After declining an offer from Walmart founder Sam Walton to merge with Sam's Club, Price Club combined forces with Costco in 1993, and the combined company (now called PriceCostco) boasted $16 billion in annual sales. (Fun Fact: the average Costco warehouse is about 142,000 square feet, which means the Doc's Delorean could have easily crossed the 100 meters or so necessary to reach 88 mph, and go back in time to when there were more free samples in the bakery section.) If Marty Invested His $10,000 At the original IPO of $10.00/share, Marty would have bought an even 1,000 shares. Unlike Best Buy, however, Costco has only experienced two stock splits (one in 1993, and another in 2000), meaning that Marty would have only ended up with 4,000 shares by 2015; however, Costco's current price per share is nearly three times that of Best Buy, and the dividends are nearly double. If Marty decided to sell his stock in Costco today (adjusting for inflation), he would stand to make around $1,367,166.66! Oshkosk Corporation IPO (1985): $10.00 Price per Share (2015): $38.60 No, not the jeans. Oshkosh Corporation one of the leading specialty truck manufacturers in the industry. How Oshkosk Looked in 1985 Oshkosh's history is quite simple. The company was founded in 1917 as the Wisconsin Duplex Auto Company, which specialized in the construction of what it termed to be the "severe-duty four-wheel-drive truck." Oshkosh now manufactures the Humvee - one of the most iconic tactical vehicles of our time. Coincidentally, the Humvee was first launched in 1985, so any gearhead (like Marty McFly) would likely have been paying attention to these cool vehicles and who was making them. If Marty Invested His $10,000 Similar to Costco, at $10.00/share, Marty could have bought 1,000 shares of Oshkosh stock (say that 10 times fast). The company has experienced three stock splits since going public (1999, 2003, and 2005), which would have left Marty with a total of 6,000 shares by 2015. At the current price per share of $38.60 (and adjusting for inflation), Marty could sell his Oshkosh stock for about about $512,156.77. Yes, that's not quite as much as some of the other companies mentioned in this post, but with that much stock in Oshkosk, Marty could have bought himself an even cooler truck than the '85' Toyota he had his heart set on in the film. Ross IPO (1985): $17.00 Price per Share (2015): $50.34 The retail clothing store whose motto is "Dress for Less," may in fact have given young Marty McFly more bang for his buck after 30 years of investing. How Ross Looked in 1985 Ross Stores began its story in 1950 Pacifica, CA by one man, Morris Ross. After eight years of pouring his heart and soul into his department stores, he sold them and became a commercial real estate developer. His stores were then bought up in 1982 by a group of investors and rapidly expanded the Ross brand from six stores to 107. By 1995, Ross Stores had achieved $1.4 billion in annual sales. If Marty Invested His $10,000 At $17.00/share in 1985, Marty could have bought 588 shares of Ross stock. And considering the five 2:1 stock splits over Ross's 30 years as a publicly traded company, Marty would end up with 18,816 shares by 2015. Adjusting for inflation, and considering the current price per share of $50.34, Marty could sell his stock in Ross for a grand total of $2,094,618.21! Not bad for investing retail. With that much money, Marty could've bought as many Air Mags and orange down vests as he wanted. If these numbers don't convince you that investing your money is the smart thing to do, we don't know what will. And it's not like you have to have $10,000 to start investing. 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