Long-term investing is a great way to build wealth, but first, you have to look for stocks to buy and hold forever. Forever is a long time, so it’s worth considering how a business will fare in both good times and bad, as you’re sure to see both. The economy is in a precarious position right now, with two years of sky-high inflation exposing the cracks in both business and household finances. That means choosing a business that can thrive even in recessionary periods is an important first step.
Businesses that tend to do well in recessions offer something people will always buy—think utilities, healthcare, and food. It’s also worth picking companies with strong brand power. Rising costs weigh on profitability, but firms with customers willing to pay more for a brand they know and love can pass on some of those costs and protect their margins.
Finally, finding stocks to buy and hold forever isn’t about picking up steady eddies. Plenty of solid businesses have growth left in the tank. Choose a well-established business with stable finances in an industry set to grow. Growth tends to conjure up images of futuristic flying cars that don’t exist yet. Still, it doesn’t have to be quite this risky—especially if you plan to pay little attention to your portfolio over the next few decades. Instead, consider industries already on their way to ballooning but have some space for continued penetration.
The digital payments space doesn’t sound like a high-growth industry, but there is plenty of runway left, making this a good area to look for stocks to buy and hold forever. It’s a market expected to deliver a compound annual growth rate of over 20% through 2030. PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL) is one of the biggest names in digital payment; that title comes with a lot of value. The more people who know and use PayPal, the more merchants want to include it as a payment option. The more merchants use it, the more people want to sign up. And the loop spins on.
PayPal is in somewhat of a transition period, made all the more difficult thanks to deteriorating economic conditions. However, new CEO Alex Chriss has pledged to improve margins on unbranded payments, a fast-growing part of the business. Once margins are bolstered, this will be a cash-making machine and a stock worth hanging onto well into the future.
There should be no shortage of brand power in a portfolio stuffed with stocks to buy and hold forever. Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) has no shortage of this, with one of the most iconic brands in the world. Customer loyalty is one of the group’s primary strengths, and it’s how Coca-Cola has grown its top and bottom line for decades. As we head into rockier economic conditions, Coca-Cola’s name will keep people from sliding down the value chain. It allows the group to hike prices more than some competitors, ultimately protecting margins and, thus, shareholder returns.
But there’s more to Coca-Cola than just its name. The group’s operating model is also attractive. Coca-Cola doesn’t bottle and distribute; instead, it outsources that to its supply chain. Many cost increases don’t directly impact Coke. The company can instead focus on what it does best—market like crazy to sell its high-margin syrup concentrate.
American Electric Power (AEP)
When picking stocks to buy and hold forever, start with necessities that people will buy come rain or shine. Utilities fit because no matter how tight times are, turning off the lights or water is probably the last to be rubbed off the list of priorities. American Electric Power (NASDAQ:AEP) owns and runs the biggest electricity transmission system in the U.S., generating some of the power it distributes.
As a utility, its earnings are relatively predictable, and expected to grow in the mid-to-high single digits. The group aims to improve efficiency by trimming some fat and creating a more streamlined portfolio. This should stand it in good stead well into the future, as should its investments in clean energy as the world shifts toward net zero in the years ahead.
On the date of publication, Marie Brodbeck did not hold (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.