When looking for investments that have the potential to be held forever, it's beneficial not to only look at the latest technological craze or most disruptive businesses. As Amazon founder Jeff Bezos believes, the focus should be on what stays the same, as opposed to what we think might change in the future.
This means that sticking to boring, steady, and predictable companies can be a worthwhile strategy. Fitting this description, here are three stocks you can keep forever.
1. Costco Wholesale
Costco Wholesale (NASDAQ:COST), with its 809 warehouses around the world, generated sales of $44.4 billion in the most recent quarter, a 21.7% jump from the prior-year period. As one of the world's largest retailers, Costco was a mission-critical business during the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Consumers visited stores to shop for everything from cleaning supplies to food.
The company's operations haven't changed much over time, and they likely won't anytime soon. Even e-commerce sales, which expanded rapidly over the past year and grew 41.2% in the most recent quarter, are slowing down. During the month of May, online revenue rose just 12.1%, signaling that shoppers are able and willing to transact more in person now.
Costco is a recession-proof business that does well in good and bad economic times, which provides the safety investors want in a forever stock. Moreover, the reliance on membership fees, of which Costco generated $901 million last quarter, allows the company to keep prices very low. As of March 31, Costco had 109.8 million membership cardholders.
Costco has and will continue to gain from its relentless focus to pass on savings to customers. This consumer-friendly fixation makes it difficult for rivals to compete and makes the business that much more loved by its shoppers.
2. Home Depot
Home Depot (NYSE:HD) has grown to a $331 billion business because people love to spend on their homes. Again, this facet of human nature will never change, and it was on full display over the past year. Home Depot's revenue in fiscal 2020 increased 19.9%, the fastest annual gain in at least a decade. As consumers spent more time indoors and shifted spending away from travel, entertainment, and leisure, Home Depot benefited greatly.
And even as we slowly recover from the pandemic, the momentum is still strong. Same-store sales (or comps) in the most recent quarter shot up 31%, continuing an acceleration over the past four quarters. The housing market is on fire, supported by still historically low interest rates and rising home prices, all of which support demand for Home Depot's products.
The company serves both do-it-yourself (DIY) and professional (pro) customers. The former outperformed during 2020, but the latter is reemerging as a real growth driver as people require work on bigger projects and are more comfortable allowing contractors into their homes. Additionally, a seamless omnichannel approach allows customers to shop Home Depot in whatever manner they like. In the most recent quarter, 55% of online orders were actually fulfilled at a store.
Home Depot paid $1.8 billion in dividends in the first quarter, and also bought back $4 billion worth of shares. Focusing on returning excess cash to shareholders further boosts investor returns.
Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX), the ubiquitous coffeehouse chain with nearly 33,000 locations worldwide, is arguably an even more important part of people's daily lives than the previous two companies. Americans (and the rest of the world) need their caffeine fix, and Starbucks is there to deliver.
The business is back to registering growth in the U.S. following a huge slowdown last year. With 22.9 million active rewards members, Starbucks' top-notch loyalty program encourages repeat business. In the most recent quarter, a whopping 52% of sales at U.S. company-operated stores were from these rewards-program customers.
You may think there isn't much growth left for this powerful brand that already has stores basically everywhere, but think again. During the investor day presentation last December, CFO Patrick Grismer claimed that by 2030, Starbucks plans to have 55,000 outlets in 100 markets globally. This 67% increase would make it the largest restaurant chain in the world. With revenue of $23.8 billion over the past 12 months, this ambitious goal should certainly boost that number significantly.
Expect China, where comps soared 91% in the most recent quarter, to be a major growth driver going forward. Starbucks plans to open 600 net new stores in the country just in this fiscal year.
Boring is beautiful
All three of these companies are absolutely essential in their customers' lives. Without Costco, Home Depot, or Starbucks, people wouldn't be able to get the things they desperately need. Furthermore, they all benefit from strong competitive advantages that protect them from rivals.
In the future, we know with a high level of confidence that the products that these businesses sell will still be in high demand. This is the primary reason they are three stocks you can keep forever.