"Buy and hold" -- it's a classic investing adage, and it makes a lot of sense, too. Many great fortunes were made by buying into great stocks and just hanging on -- for decades. Those who have reaped gains exceeding 1,000% or even 10,000% on dynamic stocks such as Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) or Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) have done so by holding through ups and downs over the years.

There's a useful distinction to be made, though, between buying and holding, and buying to hold. The latter is the better approach, because some companies' stocks are just not ones to buy and hold forever. They may seem that way at first, but fortunes can change. Plenty of once-great companies have ended up in the dust heap of history. So buy with the intention of holding for a long period, but keep up with your stocks periodically, to make sure they're still on track and still seem promising.

Hundred dollars bills have been twisted into an infinite loop.

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Here are three solid companies worth learning more about and considering for your buy-to-hold portfolio.

1. Nike

Nike (NYSE:NKE) is a sporting goods and apparel giant, with a market value recently near $207 billion, making it very much a large-cap stock. (That's way more than Boeing (NYSE:BA) and only about half the value of Walmart (NYSE:WMT), to put it in context.)

You might not realize it, but Nike encompasses not only the NIKE brand, but also the Converse and Jordan brands. The company ended fiscal 2020 with 338 retail stores in the U.S. and 758 retail stores outside it. Nike raked in $37.4 billion in fiscal 2020, keeping $2.5 billion as net income, which translates to a bottom-line profit margin of 6.8%, well above its industry average. Nike is a good long-term buy because it's always innovating -- for example, coming up with lighter and more efficient running shoes and operating a productive digital sales platform that's already generating 30% of total revenue.

2. Microsoft

Few people are unaware of Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). Indeed, it was recently ranked No. 3 by Interbrand in global brand value, with its brand estimated to be worth $166 billion.

Coincidentally, it recently employed about 166,000 people worldwide, who are responsible for products such as the Windows operating system, the Office 365 suite of productivity applications, Xbox gaming systems, Surface tablets, Azure cloud computing services, and even the LinkedIn professional network -- among other things. (It owns Skype, too -- a technology being used more than ever during the ongoing pandemic.) Microsoft is a huge company, with a market value recently near $1.6 trillion, but it's posting double-digit growth rates, and has demonstrated an ability to change with the times, remaining more than relevant over many decades. 

3. PepsiCo

Many people steer clear of technology-heavy companies because they don't know how well they will last over decades. For example, will some other company emerge to overshadow Netflix when it comes to video entertainment, perhaps offering a completely different technology?

Questions like this don't trouble investors in companies such as PepsiCo (NASDAQ:PEP), though -- because it seems quite likely that consumers will continue to demand a range of beverages and salty snacks for decades to come.

PepsiCo's offerings are available in more than 200 countries and territories, and it boasts many brands familiar to the masses, such as Pepsi, Lays, Mountain Dew, Doritos, Gatorade, Tropicana, Quaker Oats, Aquafina, Cheetos, Tostitos, and Fritos, along with SodaStream, Near East, Naked, Smartfood, Life, and Sabra. Fully 22 of its brands generate more than $1 billion in sales each year. Like the other companies above, PepsiCo has shown an ability to adapt to changing consumer tastes -- such as by responding to growing demand for energy drinks and healthier fare. It also offers a growing dividend that was recently yielding about 2.8%.

Nike, Microsoft, and PepsiCo are in very different industries, but these blue-chip giants share characteristics that make them promising candidates for long-term buy-to-hold portfolios -- such as financial strength, powerful brands, and the ability to adapt to changing times. Each also sports a broad range of offerings, which is a plus: If one or two business lines falter, their deficit can be more than made up for by outperforming segments. In a nutshell, these companies offer resiliency.

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.