In 2014, stock markets traded at record levels and the US IPO market enjoyed activity not seen since the 2000 tech bubble. Here is a snapshot of some of the year’s most successful IPOs.

1. Alibaba Group (BABA)

Not only did Alibaba make front-page headlines with its IPO, it made history. The Chinese e-commerce company launched its record-breaking $25 billion IPO in September as the world’s biggest IPO, boosting US third quarter proceeds to levels unseen since 1999 and making CEO Jack Ma the wealthiest man in China. Due to Alibaba’s over-allotment, or greenshoe option, the firm raised an additional $3 billion to its original $22 billion price after allowing underwriters the option to purchase additional shares at the $68 IPO price. So far the Hangzhou-based tech powerhouse has seen a 63% return from its IPO and enjoyed 38.1% first day gains. With a market value of $250 billion, Alibaba is now worth more than Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT).

2. GoPro (GPRO)

With a 250.4% return from its IPO, GoPro, famous for their wearable cameras, earns the spot as the year’s top performer nearly tripling its $24 offering price and popping almost 31% on its first day of trading. The highly profitable company landed on investors' radars in June after nearly doubling its revenue in 2013 to $1 billion and citing ambitions to transition into a media-based company. The timely release of the company’s Hero4 camera also didn't hurt their cause. The stock's price continue to head higher, even after Chief Executive Nick Woodman’s recent announcement of a coming secondary offering worth almost $970 million in which he plans to sell 4.1 million of his own shares.

3. Citizens Financial Group (NYSE: CFG)

Citizens Financial, an American retail bank and former subsidiary of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), was 2014’s most successful financial IPO and the biggest U.S. bank IPO since Goldman Sachs (GS) went public in 1999. Pricing in at $3 billion, Citizens third-quarter returned 7.3% on its first day and was the second largest market debut of the year behind tech behemoth Alibaba. Despite a valuation pushback, Citizens reigned in an underperforming financial services sector, which has yielded a mere 0.4% average total return, offering hope for banking IPOs and even encouraging other financial spinoffs as major banks continue to shed non-core assets. Citizens was the fourth large financial IPO of the year after Santander Consumer USA (SC) and General Motors’ former lending arm Ally Financial (ALLY). Both those companies have to date produced negative returns. Synchrony Financial (SYF) also had a sizable $2.9 billion offering, but ended the day with a 0% return.

4. Mobileye N.V. (NYSE: MBLY)

Though the third quarter historically has a lower percentage of technology IPOs, Mobileye, one of a record ten Israeli IPOs this year, has seen its stock price almost double since raising $890 million on 35.6 million shares in August. It's IPO performance is the best ever for an Israeli company. The maker of automated Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) has become so popular with automakers that the likes of BMW, Tesla, Audi, Jaguar Land Rover and Volvo have added some Mobileye products as standard features to certain vehicle models.

The company's plans to develop the first semi-autonomous and hands-free driving systems have also garnered attention. Lane-detection cameras, crash collision and brake technology are a few of the features that are widely accepted general safety features in new vehicles; as demand for safer cars grows, so will that for Mobileye’s technologies.

5. Virgin America (NASDAQ: VA)

A recent newcomer, Virgin Airlines chose the perfect time to go public. Airlines have served as one of the market’s top performing sectors this year. The group, comprised of winners like Southwest (LUV) (the top stock in the S&P 500 this year), Delta (DAL), JetBlue (JBLU) and United Continental (UAL), gained more than 50% in 2014. The gain is attributable to lower fuel and leasing costs and strong travel demand. Additionally, Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, holds nearly 25% of Virgin America’s stock and is a key player in the airline’s marketing. His well-liked, high-profile association with the company boosts investor interest. These variables, mixed with new routes and an expanded fleet, make the airline, which raised $307 million and gained 30% its first day, primed for continued success.

The Bottom Line

The healthcare and technology sectors have dominated the market, thanks to investor interest in biotechs and cloud and enterprise software. Year-to-date filings are more than 50% higher than last year and nearly 70% more capital has been raised. A packed pipeline means 2015 might be even stronger than 2014.

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