When starting a portfolio from scratch, simplicity is key. Rather than trying to find the small-cap diamond in the rough, new investors are better served by focusing on a more straightforward approach.

Yes, it is nice to see an account balance rapidly shoot up. It is much more practical, however, to start with companies we're confident will still be strong 10 years from now. Here are three examples.

Three layers of 100-dollar bills

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Walt Disney

Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) is struggling through a lack of revenue from live sports, theme parks, or cruises. Still, the iconic entertainment giant accessed credit markets to ensure $7 billion in new liquidity through the COVID-19 pandemic, and it can still tap into ample undrawn credit if need be. The 3% to 5% interest rate Disney will pay on its new debt is less than half that of cruise competitors such as Carnival, which should attract long-term investors.

And those revenue streams are showing signs of rebounding. International theme parks are now opening back up, and the company expects high levels of pent-up demand. Live sports are slowly coming back, bolstering the value proposition of Disney's content offerings. Streaming service Disney+ has exceeded all subscription estimates. Legacy assets provide cash flow for the company to continue aggressively investing in the growth of streaming. Disney's asset portfolio is second to none. In short, this company is not going anywhere.


Next: Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX). The global coffee company has drawn down $1.75 billion in new credit to ensure its financial health. With dividends and share repurchases continuing, Starbucks does not seem to consider liquidity a pressing concern. Sales have held up remarkably well through COVID-19. Revenue for the first quarter fell just 6% year over year, even with locations closed all over the world. Over 90% of U.S. locations are now open once more, with sales beginning to improve.

China is further along in the coronavirus recovery. All locations are open once more in this densely populated country, where many consumers are actively transitioning from tea to coffee.Starbucks' main Chinese rival, Luckin Coffee, is still reeling from a fraud scandal, perhaps improving the competitive landscape for CEO Kevin Johnson's team in the country going forward. With half of Starbucks' locations in China, a strong revenue recovery in Asia is a welcome sight. Starbucks seems to be enduring the pandemic with more resilience than most of its competition, a clear sign of long-term viability.


Lastly, McDonald's (NYSE:MCD). Restaurants like McDonald's with drive-through and delivery capabilities managed better than strictly dine-in restaurants. In the initial stages of the pandemic, three-quarters of McDonald's locations remained open in some capacity. While some companies saw sales evaporate, this iconic American brand maintained 97.8% of the sales it posted before the pandemic. Restaurants in China are now all open for business, and the rest of the world is now following suit.

The company's forward price-to-earnings multiple is around 34, which seems fair. Many restaurants without the resources to survive will go under, making the competitive landscape more appealing for a stronger player like McDonald's. Before the crisis, McDonald's was easily No. 1 in Business Insider's survey of fast-food breakfast options -- roughly 50% of consumers preferred McDonald's as their breakfast destination. When our world is back to normal, I expect the company to build on this strength.

All three of the companies I've discussed have experienced temporary pain but offer durability. That is the name of the game for investors. Some may brag about getting rich quick in speculative stocks, but I prefer stability and certainty. Disney, Starbucks, and McDonald's are all great options for investors starting out.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.