One of the best strategies for dealing with turbulent markets is to have a portfolio full of stocks that you want to own forever. Then, when the market drops, you can just shrug your shoulders and add more to your forever stocks at a discount.
With that in mind, here's why I plan to own Public Storage (PSA 2.80%), Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B -0.81%), and Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD -0.47%) forever, and why I love each one's business. In fact, in the wake of the recent stock market volatility, I might even add to my holdings.
A forever business with a great margin of safety
Public Storage is by far the largest real estate investment trust specializing in self-storage properties. In fact, the company is larger than its next three competitors combined. Public Storage has nearly 2,500 locations in the U.S., and owns 49% of self-storage company Shurgard Europe.
Self-storage is certainly a "forever" business, meaning that it will always be in demand. People will always need secure, affordable places to store their possessions. And the self-storage business has tremendous profit margins thanks to a favorable cost structure. Think about it: Warehouse-like self-storage buildings have far lower ongoing maintenance expenses and lower labor costs when compared with most other types of commercial properties, like hotels, apartments, and malls. In fact, Public Storage has said that it can break even with just 30% of its properties occupied (the current occupancy rate is well over 90%).
Like most other REITs, Public Storage pays a handsome dividend, currently yielding 4% with an excellent history of dividend increases. And with the company recently shifting much of its expansion efforts to developing new properties from the ground up, there's lots of potential to create even more value for shareholders.
An amazing growth machine
Berkshire Hathaway has been an amazing value-creating machine over the past half-century or so. CEO Warren Buffett started buying up insurance businesses and using the cash that these businesses held to acquire other businesses and common stocks. Over the years, this strategy has ballooned into a portfolio of more than 60 subsidiary businesses -- including household names like GEICO, Duracell, Dairy Queen, Clayton Homes, and more -- as well as a stock portfolio worth more than $180 billion even after the recent market declines.
Now, I know that market downturns are scary, and that nobody likes to watch the value of a portfolio decline. But these are the times when Buffett and his team shine. Going into the fourth quarter, Berkshire was sitting on a $100-billion-plus war chest of cash, and Buffett has a knack for identifying the best bargains.
Berkshire scooped up shares of Bank of America and Goldman Sachs at deep discounts in the wake of the financial crisis, and many other major Berkshire investments resulted from troubled times. I'd be surprised if Buffett isn't putting billions of dollars to work to take advantage of this downturn as well.
160 years and counting...
In the recent stock market volatility, the financial sector has been one of the hardest-hit areas. Even the most rock-solid institutions weren't spared. Without getting too deep into a discussion of how banks make money, the simple version is that falling long-term interest rates and rising short-term rates are a generally bad combination for bank profitability. Plus, if a recession does hit, demand for banking products like loans tends to drop.
However, I see this as an opportunity to load up on best-in-breed stocks at a discount. That's why I own Toronto-Dominion Bank, better known as TD Bank to U.S. consumers. TD stock is now nearly 20% down over the past two months, but its business is still very strong.
TD is based in Canada, where it's the No. 1 bank by assets, but it also has a substantial U.S. presence with room to grow. Speaking of growth, TD has done an excellent job increasing its earnings, loan portfolio, and deposit base faster than its peers, and without compromising asset quality. Plus, after the recent share drop, TD pays an attractive 4.1% dividend yield that is well covered by its earnings. And with a track record of paying dividends that is over 160 years long, I'd say there's a good chance investors can count on income from TD for years to come.