Some investors make risky bets, hoping to snag a piece of the next big thing. That strategy can lead to incredible returns, but it comes with stomach-churning ups and downs that'll keep you up at night. For conservative investors, buying and holding shares of high-quality companies makes more sense. You're likely to miss out on epic returns, but you'll also avoid getting burned.
We asked three of our Foolish investors to each suggest a stable stock well suited for conservative investors. Here's why CVS Health (NYSE:CVS), Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX), and Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) should be at the top of your list.
A solid healthcare pick
Keith Speights (CVS Health): The most stable stocks over the long run are those that offer products and services that should be in demand year in and year out. CVS Health certainly fits that bill. The company is the largest pharmacy retailer in the world, with 9,676 stores. CVS also runs the second-largest pharmacy benefits management (PBM) company.
Both of these businesses should grow because of several trends. Most important, baby boomers are aging and hitting the season of life where more prescription drugs are needed. This by itself should drive sales upward for CVS Health in the coming decades. The other trend is that prescription drug costs are rising, especially for specialty drugs. This trend should increase demand for services offered by PBMs, which focus on helping control prescription drug spending for employers and health insurers.
CVS Health ran into a rough patch in 2016 after losing two big contracts to rival Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ:WBA). It also pushed CVS' share price down. As a result, the stock now trades at only 12 times expected earnings.
Another bonus that CVS Health offers investors is its nice dividend, which currently sports a yield of 2.58%. This dividend should have plenty of room to increase in the future, since the company is using only 37% of earnings to fund the dividend program.
Tim Green (Starbucks): Coffee giant Starbucks has been a fantastic investment over the past decade. The stock price has more than quadrupled, revenue has more than doubled, and per-share earnings have nearly quintupled. There are more than 26,000 Starbucks locations around the world, and the company is still opening around 2,000 new stores each year.
It's hard to go too wrong buying shares of highly successful and dominant companies and holding them for the long haul. Starbucks stock isn't cheap, trading for around 28 times the average analyst estimate for 2017 earnings. But the bottom line should continue to grind higher in the coming years and decades. There's no guarantee that Starbucks stock will beat the market, but it's unlikely to lead you too far astray.
Buying Starbucks stock does come with some risks, and the biggest is the upheaval going on in the retail business. People often go to Starbucks when they're out doing other things, like shopping, so weak store traffic thanks to the growth of e-commerce poses a threat. Starbucks has taken steps to combat this scenario, including offering mobile ordering and delivery, but it's something investors need to consider.
Starbucks stock is far from a bargain, but if you're looking for a great company to hold for a long time, the coffee giant is a good choice.
Long-term focus and a big dividend
Steve Symington (Verizon Communications): Verizon isn't exactly the most popular stock on the market today. Shares of the telecommunications giant are down more than 17% year to date and sit 3% above their 52-week low as of this writing. For that, investors can thank pressure from smaller competitors that resulted in Verizon's first-ever reported decline in postpaid wireless subscribers last quarter.
But I'm not convinced Verizon is as weak as its share price indicates. For one, Verizon's customers are still exceedingly loyal, with retail postpaid phone churn remaining below 0.9% for more than two years. And Verizon is using its healthy cash flow (cash from operations last quarter was $1.7 billion) to invest heavily in the impending launch of its own 5G network, including a minimum $1.05 billion deal with Corning in April to buy up to up to 12.4 million miles of optical fiber per year from 2018 through 2020. This means the company should soon regain the advantage of a differentiated network that delights its customers for years to come.
Verizon also only recently closed on its acquisition of Yahoo! Inc. -- which incidentally turned its own profit just before the purchase was completed -- significantly expanding the presence of its Media and Telematics organization, with more than 50 media and tech brands serving over a billion consumers. Shortly after the deal closed, Verizon combined Yahoo!'s assets -- including HuffPost, Yahoo Sports, AOL.com, MAKERS, Tumblr, Yahoo! Finance, and Yahoo! Mail, to name a few -- in a new subsidiary called "Oath," with a succinct goal to "build brands people love."
Of course, these initiatives will take time to yield fruit. But I love Verizon's long-term mentality. And in the meantime, investors can collect its hefty dividend that yields nearly 5.3% annually as of this writing.