During troubled times, it's natural for investors to seek shelter in companies that have built up a strong franchise over the decades and made it through multiple crises unscathed. Their impressive track record makes them the envy of many businesses.
These are the kinds of companies that I will look to buy and hold forever. Parking our capital in such dominant businesses over decades helps to compound our wealth over time while leaving a legacy for future generations.
Here are two examples of stocks that I will willingly hold forever.
Visa (V 2.09%) is one of the top payment technology companies in the world. As of Sept. 30, 2019, it had a total of almost 3.4 billion credit cards in issue. For the first quarter of fiscal 2020, it processed a total of 54.8 trillion transactions worth $2.3 trillion. The company had reported three consecutive years of double-digit revenue growth, while net income has almost doubled from $6.3 billion in fiscal 2015 to $12 billion in fiscal 2019.
Visa's share price has tumbled around 13% year to date as the pandemic has caused transaction volumes and values to plummet around the globe. The company signaled in early March that its cross-border business was slowing down sharply because of border closures and canceled flights. A few weeks later, the company reported that U.S. payment volumes for March 1 through March 28 had declined by 4% compared to the same period in 2019, while cross-border volumes fell by a steeper 19%.
This has resulted in the company adjusting its guidance for its second-quarter results to mid-single-digit growth in revenue. Visa's original full-year 2020 guidance was for low-double-digit revenue growth, but as the world faces an impending recession, transaction volumes might fall even further.
Notwithstanding these short-term challenges, I believe Visa will be able to overcome the temporary dip in volumes and pick itself back up again once the pandemic has passed. The COVID-19 pandemic has made cash a riskier and less popular way to transact, potentially accelerating a trend that was already boosting Visa's business: the war on cash. Anything that boosts the prevalence of cashless payments is almost certainly good for Visa.
The company has proven time and again that it can weather multiple crises and yet continue to post impressive growth. Plus, Visa's multiple acquisitions will also allow it to expand beyond digital payments and capture a larger slice of the market over the long term.
Nike (NKE -0.84%) is a market leader in sports apparel and footwear. The company has been steadily growing its revenue over the past five years, from $30.6 billion in fiscal 2015 to $39.1 billion in fiscal 2019.
Though COVID-19 caused the company to close its stores first in China in late January and now in North America, demand remains strong for the company's products. This manifested itself through Nike's digital channels -- the company's Nike's Commerce App registered a 30% growth in China, while in the latest third-quarter results, the digital division delivered 36% constant-currency growth.
Nike's competitive edge is in its strong brand connection with customers, digital capabilities, and market-leading product innovation. Its financial strength means that investors need not worry about liquidity during times of stress. The company has always maintained a strong balance sheet, ample access to capital, and a strong investment-grade credit rating. Strong partnerships forged over the years with distributors such as Pou Sheng and Tmall in China and Foot Locker across the U.S. and Europe mean that its products can remain accessible to customers through multiple channels.
Though this pandemic will cause a short-term sharp decline in the company's financial performance, I have confidence that Nike can recover from it and go on to become even stronger over time. Nike is one of the leading consumer discretionary companies, and its dominance in sports footwear and apparel ensures that it will continue to occupy customers' mind share long after the crisis has passed. The power of its brand and its innovative culture also contribute to its popularity, as many new Nike product launches have seen strong demand from athletes and fans alike.
Strong companies bounce back after a crisis
Visa and Nike will undoubtedly face challenges in the short term due to the unprecedented measures being implemented by numerous countries due to COVID-19. This might even impact their performance for a few quarters as the world struggles to recover.
However, these are strong companies with top-notch management teams, and I am confident they will bounce back after the crisis abates.