The stock market rewards investors who buy and hold stocks for the long run -- allowing compound interest to work in their favor. If you had invested $1,000 in the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) 50 years ago, you would have $39,000 today, or in other words, 39 times whatever amount you initially invested. Of course, one of the challenges in achieving such incredible returns is resisting the temptation to sell.

For those of you who are interested in achieving the massive gains associated with long-term investing (and I know you are earnestly interested -- otherwise you wouldn't have clicked on this article), here are three growth stocks you can buy and hold for the next 50 years. 

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Amazon is the quintessential growth stock

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) has a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27.6% in the last decade. What's more, when its fiscal 2020 is over, the e-commerce giant will likely report a rate of growth above its 10-year average. The pandemic has accelerated the shift from brick-and-mortar shopping to online, and that trend is unlikely to reverse even after the pandemic has faded away.

Its army of over 150 million loyal shoppers (known as Prime members) will help fuel the continued growth in its retail segment. Third-party businesses, companies that sell products on Amazon's site and pay Amazon a percentage fee for the privilege, covet having access to these shoppers. The more Prime members Amazon acquires, the more businesses it will attract to list products on its site, which will provide more value to Prime members. In other words, the classic network effect is at play.

Amazon's highly profitable Web Services segment, which provides cloud computing services to enterprises and institutions, continues to grow at nearly 30%. According to Grand View Research, the cloud computing industry is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 14.9% between 2020 and 2027. Amazon is the market leader in that space and will benefit from a leading position.  

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Starbucks is adding locations  

Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) completed a successful decade where it grew revenue at a CAGR of 8.2% despite the double-digit decline in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Still, the company's long-run prospects remain excellent. The outbreak temporarily restrained the international coffee chain, but it plans to resume opening new stores at a 6.5% pace starting in 2022. Importantly, in the near term, the focus of the expansion will be international. In part, because international stores are more profitable for the company.

Additionally, the company is growing its loyal customer base, which increased by 3 million in the most recent quarter. It now has over 19 million active rewards members who tend to shop more often and spend more on each visit compared to non-members. Moreover, a recent tweak in the program which allows members to earn rewards without pre-loading cards will help add people who were reluctant to pre-load cards.

Disney's streaming services are increasing revenue 

Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) grew revenue at a CAGR of 5.6% in the last decade. That's including a challenging fiscal 2020 where revenue declined because of coronavirus-led shutdowns of some of its operations. 

Steaming services will be the growth engine of its future. The company has 120 million subscribers across its three services, and this seems only a small fraction of the total addressable market in the streaming space. Its primary service, Disney+, launched only last November has already reached 74 million subscribers. The early success led the company to pursue another international streaming service under the Star brand in fiscal 2021.

As the pandemic fades away, Disney parks should resume delighting families. And importantly for investors, Disney has been able to increase prices at its parks at double the rate of inflation over the last five years. It may even be able to increase prices at a slightly higher rate in the near term because of pent-up demand following attendance restrictions.

The company's ability to provide family entertainment, whether at the box office where it's generated an industry-leading $39.7 billion in sales in the last 25 years, or its parks, or its streaming services, make it a valuable growth stock that long-term investors can add to their portfolio.

What this means for long term investors 

At various points during the previous 50-year stretch, there were major stock market crashes that may tempt some individuals to sell out of fear of losing even more. At the other end of the spectrum, some may have been tempted to cash out after large gains. Admittedly, there may be valid reasons to sell your holdings that don't include trying to time the market, but as the example in the introduction shows, there are powerful gains that can accumulate if you buy and hold stocks for the long term. 

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.