You might be surprised by the list of companies that have produced more than 1,000% gains for their shareholders over the past three years.

Sure, some are highly speculative – and several could easily end up losing their shareholders all of their current gains.

But when you consider the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) index has returned just 1.7% over the past three years (since October 21, 2013), 1,000% returns – or more than ten times the initial price are truly astonishing.

If you include dividends reinvested over that time, the Index return becomes 16.2% in total – not a great return at all.

Company Share Price Market Cap ($m) Gain
Pilbara Minerals Ltd (ASX: PLS) $0.48 $548.7 5863%
Structural Monitoring Systems plc (ASX: SMN) $2.54 $259.0 5465%
Resapp Health Ltd (ASX: RAP) $0.50 $293.5 2994%
Neometals Ltd (ASX: NMT) $0.36 $202.7 1795%
Agrimin Ltd (ASX: AMN) $0.64 $79.3 1500%
Cardinal Resources Ltd (ASX: CDV) $0.71 $214.6 1471%
Magnis Resources Ltd (ASX: MNS) $0.79 $350.9 1470%
Eden Energy Ltd. (ASX: EDE) $0.23 $280.5 1189%
Eureka Group Holdings Ltd (ASX: EGH) $0.74 $171.0 1133%
Farm Pride Foods Ltd (ASX: FRM) $1.75 $96.6 1067%
Dacian Gold Ltd (ASX: DCN) $3.34 $453.2 1048%
Red River Resources Limited (ASX: RVR) $0.16 $48.7 1043%

Source: S&P Global Markets Intelligence, Google Finance

Some of these companies are in hot sectors, but a number also have some very exciting new technology.

Pilbara Minerals and Neometals are lithium companies benefitting from the surging demand for the product for use in rechargeable batteries – not just in mobile phones but growing electric car manufacturing.

Magnis operates in the equally hot graphite sector – hence its share price soaring.

Structural Monitoring Systems has benefitted from the increased demand for real-time monitoring of the structural integrity in products like airplanes, bridges, pipelines and buildings. The company has first-mover advantage and a huge market, although is still loss-making.

Resapp Health wants to develop smartphone apps to diagnose and manage respiratory disease. While it sounds promising, the company is still undergoing trials for its products. 3 years ago, Resapp was called Narhex Life Sciences and was looking at moving into the resources space.

Agrimin has also transformed – from a company called Global Resources Corporation three years ago, into a potash miner in July 2014. Potash is one of the main ingredients in fertilizer – expected to see almost as much demand in future as lithium.

Cardinal Resources is a gold explorer in Ghana, Africa and investors appear excited by the company’s deposits.

Eden Energy is using carbon nanotubes to form a concrete admixture that means concrete doesn’t need steel reinforcing added to it. Tests so far suggest Eden’s product is far superior to standard concrete in many ways.

Eureka Group has profited by moving into aged care and development and management of retirement villages, and is steadily growing its business with big tailwinds behind it.

Egg and egg products supplier Farm Pride has had a strong couple of years thanks to consistent growing profits – mostly by substantially reducing its production costs.

Dacian Gold has profited from the recovery in the gold price of the past few years as well as progressing its 100% owned Mount Morgans Gold Project.

Red River benefitted from the demise of Kagara Ltd, picking up the Thalanga zinc operations from the administrator for just $6.5 million in July 2014. The company is working to restart operations within the next 12 months.

Foolish takeaway

It seems clear that each of the companies listed above have exciting developments on the go. Whether they will all be successful is another questions though and not easily answered. My three tips for a closer look would Eden Energy, Farm Pride and Eureka Group.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King doesn't own shares in any companies mentioned. You can follow Mike on Twitter @TMFKinga

The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.