Successful stock investing requires you to have a long-term focus. Because the market sometimes crashes, you need at least a five-year time horizon when considering any stock investment. On the opposite end of the time horizon question, Warren Buffett has said that his favorite holding period is "forever," indicating that there's value to be found in companies that are built to last.
A decade sits neatly in between. It's a time horizon long enough for a great company to have an incredible impact on your net worth, but short enough so that you don't feel perpetually beholden to an investment that may not work out. With that timeframe in mind, here are three top stocks you can consider buying to hold for the next decade.
No. 1: Buffett's own business
Warren Buffett earned his reputation as one of the world's greatest investors by transforming Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A -0.06%) (BRK.B -0.95%) from a struggling textile mill into a financial industry giant. The company today is not only a powerhouse in insurance, but it also owns a conglomeration of other businesses, ranging from railroads to power generation to furniture and restaurants.
Although Buffett has been at the helm of Berkshire Hathaway for over half a century, he is 90 years old and closer to the end of his career than the beginning. Still, his legacy will likely live on long after he turns over the reins to his successor, as Buffett intentionally built the company to last. He did that partly through his focus on so many critical industries.
For instance, a railroad may not be the sexiest business around, but it's certainly an economical way of shipping products across the country. As long as there's a need to move stuff around, there will likely be a need for the railroads. A similar story holds true for electric generation. Even Buffett admits that Berkshire Hathaway isn't going to be a rapid growth business in the future (it's too big), but it certainly has the staying power to be worth your consideration over the next decade.
No. 2: A leading generic drug maker that's finally getting its mojo back
TEVA Pharmaceutical Industries (TEVA 3.20%) may be best known for its portfolio of generic medications, but it was its own patented blockbuster drug that got it into trouble a few years ago. When TEVA lost patent protection on its multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone, it lost a huge chunk of revenue to other generic drug makers eager to capitalize on the newly available technology. That led TEVA to suspend its dividend and restructure its operations, including the loss of around 1,700 jobs.
Despite those short-term problems, TEVA remains a solid company overall, and there's good reason to believe it's getting its mojo back. Analysts expect the company to earn $2.51 per share in 2020 and $2.63 per share in 2021. At a recent price of around $9.40 per share, the market is still punishing the company for its past challenges and not rewarding it for the likely stronger future to come.
From an investor's perspective, a decade-long time horizon can make a huge difference in this instance. TEVA's generic business remains strong, but the market has clearly been spooked by its Copaxone-related troubles. Once it reestablishes its credibility by posting solid numbers, the market will eventually reflect the company's underlying strength. An investor who buys in before the market has fully incorporated that return to strength can potentially profit if that expected better future does appear.
In addition, thanks to a decade-long time horizon, an investor can be patient if that recovery takes longer than expected. With a recent market price less than five times what the company is expected to earn when the recovery does materialize, patience has the potential to be rewarded if those expectations come true.
No. 3: A key transportation infrastructure leader
Ryder System (R 1.90%) may be best known for the iconic red logo on its white trucks, but don't confuse it with a typical trucking company. Ryder System also operates as a service provider to other transportation companies, including transportation management, equipment leasing, and maintenance services. That distinction is important to understand, because trucking in general is a largely commoditized business and it's hard to earn a high rate of return over time.
As a service provider to other logistics companies, Ryder System is somewhat insulated from the biggest swings in the industry. As long as freight is moving, after all, trucks will need to be serviced, regardless of whether the truckers are making bank at the moment or barely covering the costs of keeping their rigs on the road.
Of course, being somewhat insulated from the biggest swings in the industry is not the same as being completely immune from all the swings in it. As a result, even though Ryder System is well positioned to have staying power in an industry where bankruptcies are common, as an investor, you need a long-term focus to consider owning shares.
For instance, although it's facing COVID-19-related losses in 2020, analysts expect Ryder System to return to profitability next year. Despite its current losses, it carries an investment grade debt rating, which also provides support that its business model looks robust enough to have longer-term staying power.
Long-term strength in tough times
What all three of these companies have in common is that they are built to last. Their business models meet clear consumer needs in industries that are in demand even when the economy struggles. While even the best among them may stumble from time to time when faced with an unprecedented situation, they've shown themselves to be resilient enough to survive tough times.
If you're trying to figure out how to invest your money with a long-term focus, you could do worse than considering Berkshire Hathaway, TEVA Pharmaceutical Industries, and Ryder System. They may not bring with them the excitement of the fastest growth and hottest technology companies, but they have all shown the staying power that comes with a focus on what counts over time.