These Stocks Could Lead You to a Lifetime of Market-Beating Returns

Yesterday I had the good fortune to join Barry Armstrong on his radio show Financial Exchange on WRKO AM 680 in Boston. Every so often we get to talk stocks for a few minutes, and yesterday I gave him and the listeners of Boston two stock ideas that I think are solid buys today. You can catch our segment by clicking here. And you can read more about them below.

Home Depot  (NYSE: HD  )  
This is one of the most obvious plays on the recovering (yes, I know it's slow) housing market. One of the first questions I get when talking up Home Depot's game is "Why not Lowe's?" A fair question, no doubt, but when I look at the two side to side, the answer to me is obvious. Home Depot's scale simply makes it more profitable:

Metric 

Home Depot

Lowe's (NYSE: LOW  )  

Market capitalization

$116,863

$47,916

Revenue

$76,070

$50,456

Net income

$4,726

$1,972

Gross margin

34.6%

34.3%

Operating margin

10.9%

7.3%

Net margin

6.2%

3.9%

Dividend yield

2%

1.6%

Source: S&P Capital IQ. Dollar amounts in millions.

Data from Freddie Mac's most recent quarter tells us that as rates start ticking back up, the refinance boom is slowing down. And after all of this refinancing, I think many folks are going to be staying in their homes for a while. This means projects and renovations abound, and Home Depot is one of the best ways for Foolish investors to play this trend.

McCormick (NYSE: MKC  )  
I still gush about my trip to the McCormick spice factory in Hunt Valley, Md. As someone who cooks a decent bit, it was just really cool to see how the operation works. It's more than just "spices"; it's science. They have labs where they perform research and try new things; it was just really cool. But I'm not picking this stock with my heart. Nope, I also love the fact that McCormick has a spot in virtually every pantry in the country. Open yours up, I bet you have a McCormick product in there. And it's this ubiquitous presence that has helped McCormick grow sales at a 7% annualized clip over the past five years.

About 40% of McCormick's sales come from its industrial business, which accounts for some big clients -- and by big, I mean Yum! Brands big. And while this is lower-margin revenue, it's certainly still very positive and leads to very sticky, long-term relationships. The fact that about 40% of the company's revenue is tied to overseas markets as well offers some nice diversity for investors. In fact, McCormick just completed its acquisition of Wuhan Asia-Pacific Condiments, which opens it up to additional market share gains in China and a long, flavorful future.

Awesome returns are the spice of life
The word "taper" seems to be on the tip of many investors' tongues these days, but who knows when the Fed is going to take its foot off the gas? And furthermore, does this even make you want to stop investing? It's understandable that investors are a bit nervous, I get that. That's why it's more important than ever to make sure the companies we're buying have durable competitive advantages, healthy financials, and room to grow. Home Depot and McCormick fit the bill, and for Foolish investors with a longer time horizon, they represent two excellent opportunities for a lifetime of market-beating returns.

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