No one can see three decades into the future — especially where business and investing are concerned. Who, after all, could have predicted the rise of Facebook or the fall of Sears in 1992?
Although you can’t predict the future, you can pick long-term stock investments based on a company’s financial health, ability to innovate and history of finding new ways to add value.
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While there are no certainties when it comes to prognostication, the following companies are well-positioned to continue their runs of success for 30 more years through 2052. Some are new as of the 21st century, others date back to the Industrial Revolution.
Although the market for smartphones and tablets is relatively young, it’s so well established that it’s difficult to imagine it going anywhere anytime soon. And while Apple is almost certainly never going to achieve the sort of growth it did while it was creating that market, it’s also hard to see it ever falling out of the top three or four spots in smartphone sales. Throw in a massive cash reserve, a modest dividend and a history of spending cash on share buybacks, and this would appear to be a stock that gives you as much reason to believe it will be worth owning in 30 years as it is today.
Microsoft might seem like a blast from the past to some, but the software company has actually positioned itself well for strong legacy businesses. Its software suite is virtually indispensable to many (if not most) businesses, and its ubiquitous Windows runs on nearly 74% of the world’s desktop computers, according to Statista. But the company also has a toe in the social media pool with LinkedIn, it’s in the video-conferencing game with Skype, and its Azure cloud computing services are duking it out with Amazon for domination of an all-important and fast-growing market space. All told, Microsoft has a variety of strong verticals, each of which looks to be a key piece of the increasingly digital, service-based economy.
A stock that has never paid a dividend might feel out of place — the best dividend stocks tend to offer more confidence over long time frames. But Alphabet’s combination of a rock-solid business that completely dominates internet search alongside its investments in forward-looking “moon shots” could create the sort of massive disruptive value to take it beyond its current mega-cap status.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM)
Here you have a business that’s so essential to the American economy that when its major players do a truly horrendous job of it, the federal government steps in to lend the company hundreds of billions of dollars to ensure it stays in business. And as far as safe bets go, that makes the largest investment banks a pretty solid option. Businesses and consumers alike are always going to need banks — the economy grinds to a halt without them. And as such, America’s largest bank, with $2.87 trillion in assets, is likely among the safest bets for companies that aren’t going anywhere in the foreseeable future.
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)
Johnson & Johnson was at the forefront of COVID-19 vaccine and treatment research, which showcased the 135-year-old company’s ability to continuously evolve and adapt. Health care, however, is just one arm of its operations.
It’s also a massive consumer goods conglomerate with a huge portion of its business in the sort of consumer staples that are likely always going to be in demand. Is it possible that there will be a time when COVID-19 is a thing of the past and people are no longer paying huge bucks to private companies for their prescription drugs? Sure. Will those people still need to buy baby oil and mouthwash? Almost certainly.
Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-B)
It’s hard to ignore the presumed favorite of Warren Buffett, who made his fortune buying and holding stock. In addition to owning some of America’s most recognized brands — Dairy Queen, Duracell, Fruit of the Loom and Geico, to name a few — Berkshire Hathaway has tremendous value as an investment vehicle for Buffett himself.
If that doesn’t convince you, consider this: The company has been on a stock repurchasing spree over the last couple of years. It bought back 1% of its shares each quarter in 2021 for a combined $27 billion total for the year, according to Barron’s. It bought back another $2 billion in the first two quarters of 2022.
One of the biggest selling points for telecom stocks is usually the dividend, and Verizon doesn’t disappoint with a yield over 5% — 5.03%, to be exact. If you’re reinvesting that over time, it can develop into a pretty significant chunk of your nest egg even if the stock’s market value underperforms over time.
However, it’s also worth noting that Verizon and other wireless companies are in a pretty strong market position due to the enormous value of the wireless spectrum they own, which could make it a smart investment. With a limited amount of spectrum available for carriers — and the enormous cost of acquiring it — the business is not one where plucky young upstarts have much chance, if any, to challenge the status quo. So, Verizon might continue battling with AT&T, T-Mobile and others for market share, but it also seems pretty unlikely that the major players in that realm are going to change up entirely.
What’s one way to prevent disruptive new internet companies from undermining your business model? Be the business that supplies people with their internet connection. That’s clearly just one piece of AT&T’s business — it also owns WarnerMedia, which merged with Discovery to form a new company, and DirecTV, among other properties — but it’s another example of how high-dividend telecom stocks could be among the better bets for a stock that will be worth owning for the next 30 years.
The Walt Disney Co. (DIS)
There aren’t many companies in the media and entertainment space you would normally consider for this sort of list. After all, consumer tastes are fickle, and you never know where the next hit might come from. However, Disney would be the exception that proves the rule. With a firmly established brand, a wide variety of additional media brands under its umbrella, the Disney+ streaming service and the combined media libraries of Disney and Fox now under its control, Disney’s position in the American media landscape appears to be secure enough to survive the shifting sands of consumer tastes.
The Procter & Gamble Co. (PG)
Legendary investor Peter Lynch is often quoted as saying, “Go for a business that any idiot can run — because sooner or later any idiot probably is going to be running it.” It’s hard to imagine sounder advice for picking stocks with a 30-year time frame, and one such business that could fit the bill might be Procter & Gamble.
Operating in consumer staples is a great business model to start with, as the demand for your products never really subsides. And when you consider the sheer volume of different popular household brands under the P&G umbrella — Old Spice, Pantene, Crest, Vicks, Tide, Mr. Clean, Swiffer and Pampers, just to name a few — it’s hard to envision an idiot big enough to sink all of them at once.
Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC)
A barrage of scandals battered Wells Fargo in recent years, but the bank survived, which proves the 180-year-old institution’s continued success as a wily survivor.
While massive banks don’t have much room for growth, they do offer long-term stability thanks to the built-in advantages that come with financing the economy. Every company will have its share of ups and downs over the years, and Wells Fargo has done a good job of managing its many recent downs.
The Home Depot (HD)
The Home Depot has proven its strength through the toughest financial challenges in recent times — the market crash and the pandemic. And despite taking a few hits recently as consumer behavior returns to something resembling normal, it’s still a serious contender for the long haul, perhaps because of the pandemic as much as in spite of it. With few real competitors beyond Lowe’s, and people continuing to work from home offices in the locations of their choosing, Home Depot seems well-positioned to ride out whatever comes next.
United Parcel Service (UPS)
The rise of online retail meant a huge increase in business for parcel delivery, a pattern that the pandemic only strengthened. The trend away from brick-and-mortar retail is a gain for companies like UPS, which looks to be occupying an increasingly lucrative space between consumers and their stores. And of course, UPS was doing just fine with the parcel delivery business before Amazon and the like, so this is one company that appears more than likely to still be chugging along as we close in on 2052.
NextEra Energy (NEE)
As investments go, there are few sectors as stable as utilities. While you’re not going to get rich owning them, you’re also really unlikely to go broke. Operating a legally defined monopoly in most places, utilities don’t really have any competition to speak of. And given that people will always need electricity, that makes a company like NextEra Energy, with its 5.7 million accounts serving over 12 million customers, a pretty safe bet to still be rolling along in 30 years.
The Coca-Cola Co. (KO)
With a 60-year history of increasing dividends, currently at 44 cents per share, and a healthy yield of 2.81%, Coca-Cola is a reliable blue chip worthy of a spot in your portfolio for the next 30 years.
The company has a nearly 45% share of the carbonated soft drink market, according to Statista — not surprising considering Coca-Cola owns 200 master brands and sells its products in over 200 countries. Although many of the most popular in the U.S. are soft drinks that get a bum rap for contributing to Americans’ sugar-laden diets, Coca-Cola products also include water, juice, dairy and plant-based beverages as well as coffee and tea.
Morgan Stanley (MS)
One more time with this broken record: America’s largest banks are as likely as any company to continue producing returns over a 30-year time frame. They’re essential to the economy and protected by the government. And while Morgan Stanley is a bit different in that it doesn’t have a commercial banking arm, it’s still in the realm of companies that you shouldn’t expect to be going anywhere. After all, it’s been in business since 1924.
3M is a Minnesota-based technology company that manufactures more than 60,000 industrial, safety and consumer products in a diverse collection of segments, including safety and industrial, transportation, electronics and healthcare. Perhaps best known by consumers for brands like Futuro, Filtrete and Scotch, 3M isn’t a sexy stock. But it is a stable one with relatively low volatility and consistent dividends, currently yielding an enviable 4.59%, which place it squarely in the dividend aristocrat category.
Meta Platforms Inc. (FB)
With a market cap of $562.19 billion, the company formerly known as Facebook could be the next in an elite group to reach a $1 trillion valuation. Although it has taken its share of hits over the last few years amid accusations of monopolistic tendencies and irresponsible behavior, Meta changed the way the world communicates so profoundly that it’s likely to survive whatever regulators and detractors throw at it — no matter how its VR ambitions play out.
Love it or hate it, it’s tough to deny Amazon a place in your portfolio for the next 30 years. Having established itself as a retail powerhouse long before the pandemic, Amazon was well-positioned to serve as a lifeline for locked-down Americans. And not to be outdone by rival Walmart, Amazon has already ventured into the brick-and-mortar realm with Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods.
Add in the company’s forays into consumer electronics, healthcare, streaming services and Amazon Web Services, which powers Amazon.com, and it’s clear that Amazon is an integral — and integrated — part of millions of Americans’ everyday lives.
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