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Ten best S&P 500 stocks of the decade Add to ...

Analyst Ratings: Only one analyst has a "sell" rating on FLIR Systems. Seven others say investors should buy the stock, while five research recommending holding onto shares.

Major Events: FLIR Systems was hit at the start of the decade with an accounting scandal. In 2002, the Securities and Exchange Commission alleged that former FLIR CEO Kenneth Stringer and other executives engaged in fraudulent accounting practices throughout 1998 and 1999 in order to meet revenue and earnings projections. FLIR restated its 1998 and 1999 financial statements three times in 2000 and 2001 to correct its financials. In 2007, FLIR would again restate financial statements, this time for a 10-year period from 1995 through 2005, to properly record charges for compensation expense relating to past stock option grants.

On the positive side: Since 2003, FLIR has made a total of 11 acquisitions, and revenue and net earnings have more than doubled from 2005 to 2009.

Upside Potential: FLIR's nearly 4,000% surge may appear to be running out of steam, but analysts still think investors can squeeze out more profits. An average price target of $32 represents 16% upside potential.

2. Apple

10-Year Gain: 4,210%

Company Profile: Led by CEO Steve Jobs, Apple has been one of the hottest stocks of the decade, thanks to its innovative products like the iPod, iPhone and iPad. The company is also highly regarded for its Mac line of computers and the iOS software platform.

Analyst Ratings: Apple is among the most-loved stocks on Wall Street, garnering a whopping 59 "buy" recommendations from research firms. Three analysts rate the stock a "hold," while no researcher covering the stock recommends that investors sell shares.

Major Events: Apple's incredible run began in 2001 with the introduction of the iPod portable MP3 player. That same year, Apple opened its first retail store.

The company continued to update its iPod and Mac computer lineups through 2007, when the company changed its name from Apple Computer to Apple Inc. to reflect its broadening focus. That same year, Apple unveiled the first iteration of the iPhone, followed in 2010 by the introduction of the iPad.

Apple hasn't been without controversy over the past decade. An options-backdating scandal surfaced after Jobs was granted stock options for 7.5 million shares in 2001. In addition, Jobs' health became a major concern from 2006 until 2008, with investors questioning whether his health was a private matter or public concern for shareholders.

Upside Potential: Apple shares won't suffer from fatigue in 2011 if analysts are correct. An average price target of $379 on Apple shares implies another 18 per cent climb from current trading levels.

1. Priceline.com

10-Year Gain: 5,232%

Company Profile: Known for its recent run of advertisements featuring Star Trek's William Shatner, Priceline.com is the online travel company offering its customers a range of travel services, including hotel rooms, car rentals, airline tickets, vacation packages, cruises and destination services.

Analyst Ratings: Thirteen analysts rate Priceline.com a "buy" and another four say investors should hold shares. No research firm has a "sell" rating on the stock.

Major Events: Priceline.com, launched in 1998, expanded operations over the past decade to include the brands Booking.com worldwide and Agoda in Asia.

The company's "Name Your Own Price" service model has benefitted travelers and shareholders alike. In June 2007, Priceline.com eliminated processing fees for price-disclosed airline-ticket service, and a year later, it reduced processing fees for domestic price-disclosed merchant hotel room service. Both moves gave the company a temporary pricing advantage over competitors like Expedia and Orbitz .

Total revenue and net income has more than doubled from 2005 to 2009, according to Priceline.com's annual report.

Upside Potential: Priceline.com shares have had an absolutely remarkable run over the past 10 years, but there still may be upside potential for investors who missed out. Analysts have an average price target of $464, which implies another 15% increase in the stock.

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