Never is a long time, and it seems almost ludicrous in investing to make such a broad and sweeping statement as, "I'm never selling." Admittedly, no one can truly say for certain that they'll not sell a stock over the coming weeks and years, let alone "never." As recent events have shown, not every company is cut out to thrive in every situation, and it's impossible to plan for every eventuality.
That said, there are several criteria that can increase the chances that you'll be able to buy a stock that will remain in your portfolio for years to come. But there are two qualities investors will want to see in a company they're considering buying and never selling: a business that becomes a leader in its industry and one that can pivot to adapt to a new reality.
Assuming you have an emergency fund to fall back on and $2,000 (or less) that you don't need in the coming three to five years, here are two companies that fit those criteria. They also issue stocks I don't think I'm ever selling.
1. Netflix: The streaming leader with plenty of growth ahead
Younger investors might not remember that before Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), many movie-watchers would make a weekly pilgrimage to the video store to rent a DVD (or videotape). The company's DVD-by-mail business disrupted the status quo and became a cash cow. It wasn't long before CEO Reed Hastings looked into the future and disrupted Netflix's own successful business by plunging headlong into streaming video delivered over the internet -- and the rest, as they say, is history.
In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated adoption of streaming video worldwide, bringing the company's global subscriber base to 183 million, up 23% year over year. At the same time, Netflix's revenue grew 28%, while earnings per share more than doubled.
Netflix closed out 2019 with 61 million subscribers in the U.S., which represents nearly half of all households in the country, but overall penetration in international markets is still far lower. Analyst Yung Kim of Piper Sandler estimates that the company has achieved about 47% penetration in the U.S. but just 7% globally (excluding China).
If Netflix were to reach global penetration levels similar to what it has achieved in the U.S., it could add as many as 600 million additional paid subscribers, more than three times its current worldwide viewer base. While the company may never attract that many paying customers, it illustrates that Netflix has a long runway for growth ahead.
2. Apple: More than just the iPhone
It wasn't too long ago that many investors were ready to toss Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) stock in the waste bin. Growth in the global smartphone market had ground to a halt, declining 2% last year. This didn't appear to bode well for Apple, which derived 55% of its fiscal 2019 revenue from its flagship iPhone.
Appearances can be deceiving, however, as Apple has several catalysts over both the medium and long term that investors shouldn't ignore.
Apple has an installed base of devices more than 1.5 billion strong, and while the company doesn't break that out by specific products, it's estimated that it includes nearly 1 billion iPhones. Apple customers are a particularly loyal bunch, and most will likely replace their current device with a next-generation iPhone. This could result in as many as 350 million iPhone upgrades over the next 12 months, according to Wedbush analyst Dan Ives.
That's not all. Apple has been working to diversify its revenue stream over the past couple of years, which is a tall order considering the sheer dominance of the iPhone. Yet the company is making slow-but-steady progress. Apple's services segment has doubled its contribution over the past several years, accounting for 23% of its revenue in the fiscal second quarter. At the same time, the wearables, home, and accessories segment is Apple's fastest-growing business and now represents 11% of its sales.
That's not to say there won't be challenges in the coming months and quarters -- particularly in light of the pandemic -- but given the company's dominant position in the worldwide smartphone market, the growing diversity of its offerings, and the increasing importance of its services, unless things change significantly, I can't see myself ever selling Apple stock.