Buying and holding high-quality dividend stocks is arguably the best way to predictably generate wealth over the long term. And the longer you hold, the more pronounced your gains will become with the help of compound returns. So why not consider stocks that you can confidently buy and hold forever?
To that end, we asked three top Motley Fool investors to each pick a high-yield stock that they believe investors could buy and never sell. Read on to learn why they chose Ford (NYSE:F), Enterprise Products Partners (NYSE:EPD), and Iron Mountain (NYSE:IRM).
An enduring high-yield automaker
Steve Symington (Ford): You'll be hard pressed to think of a more enduring, iconic name than Ford, which offers a juicy dividend yielding just over 4.7% annually as of this writing. But Ford's actual business is set to benefit from even more exciting catalysts that could drive the share price higher in the coming years.
In the near term, strong demand for its flagship F-Series pickups drove profits up 63% year over year last quarter to $1.56 billion. And though a slow production ramp has led to tight supplies of its Ford Fiesta, which meant near-term losses in the region ($86 million last quarter), Ford appears to have turned the corner there with not only improving sales of the popular model in recent months, but also an increasing preference for its more lucrative SUVs by European car buyers.
Looking to the longer term, Ford is preparing to accelerate its presence in China with 50 new vehicle launches in the Middle Kingdom by 2025, which it believes will help its revenue grow 50% over the same period in the world's largest car market. And in the meantime, earlier this month the company revealed plans to begin testing its self-driving vehicle technology in 2018 and to commercialize an autonomous ride by 2021.
Of course, that's a lot of irons in the fire. But if all goes as planned, I think the blue oval will be able to proudly continue generating shareholder value for the foreseeable future.
A consistent cash machine
John Bromels (Enterprise Products Partners): A high yield is worth nothing -- or could be worth nothing surprisingly quickly (looking at you, General Electric) -- if it isn't coupled with stability and consistent performance. That's why I think midstream pipeline company Enterprise Products Partners is an excellent stock to buy and hold forever.
The company's current yield of 6.5% is, of course, a tempting reason to buy in. Better still, Enterprise has consistently increased its payout every quarter for more than a decade. That includes during the Great Recession of the late 2000s and during the oil price slump of 2014, even as many of its peers were cutting their payouts. That should give investors confidence that Enterprise is an investment that can be bought and held for a long, long time.
Speaking of holding onto the stock for a long, long time: That will have advantages because of Enterprise's status as a Master Limited Partnership (MLP). MLPs are treated differently by the IRS than standard stocks, which gives certain tax advantages to unitholders (and also requires some extra work come tax time). In return, the companies are required to pay out most of their cash flows as distributions to unitholders -- hence the high yield.
The tax issue may deter some from wanting to own an MLP like Enterprise, but for me, the company's solid yield and long history of rewarding investors is more than worth it.
This stock is as solid as iron
Keith Speights (Iron Mountain): High yield might mean different things to different investors, but I suspect that Iron Mountain's yield of 6.32% would satisfy nearly everyone. And the yield could get even better: The company expects to increase its dividend payment by at least 4% annually in the future. Assuming Iron Mountain achieves its goal, the only way the yield won't go up is if the stock price goes up even faster. Investors win either way. My colleague Matthew Frankel hit the nail on the head a few months ago when he called the stock "a dividend investor's dream."
But can you really hold Iron Mountain stock forever? Probably so. Stocks you can hold forever are ones that have moats that protect their business. With a name like Iron Mountain, you would expect the company has a moat. And it does.
Iron Mountain has been around for 66 years. The company stores records (mainly physical records and data backup media) and provides information management services to more than 230,000 customers across the world, including most of the largest companies on the planet. This longevity, size, and huge number of customers make up a big part of Iron Mountain's moat. But there are also a couple of factors that should ensure the company survives and thrives over the long haul.
First, increasingly more records and data are being generated by organizations. Second, once a company chooses Iron Mountain, it's not likely to switch to a competitor. There's simply too much of a hassle to move everything that's in storage. In my view, this stock is as solid as iron.
The bottom line
There's no way to absolutely guarantee that Ford, Enterprise Products Partners, and Iron Mountain will deliver outsized returns for shareholders. But we sure like their chances given both their attractive dividend yields and the fact that they operate from positions of industry leadership, relative stability, and have long-term mindsets that any patient investor can love.