The comedian Steven Wright reportedly once quipped: "I intend to live forever. So far, so good." That's kind of how it is for me and a handful of my stock holdings. I intend to hold them forever, or at least for a very long time, and... so far, so good. Here are my caveats: I will probably sell some or all of them when I'm in retirement and need extra income, and I may sell them far sooner, if any of them suddenly seem less promising and less likely to keep growing over the long run.
That said, a bunch of my holdings are ones I envision hanging onto for at least 10 or 20 more years. Here's a look at three of them: Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN), and American Express (NYSE:AXP). Maybe you'll want to buy or hold some of them -- and then hang on for a long time, too.
Apple has had quite an up-and-down history. It was an innovative pioneer in personal computers, but it ended up yielding much market share to PC machines. By late 1997, its market share had shrunk to just 4.4% of the U.S. PC market -- and to just 3.3% of the worldwide market. But it recovered, debuted some amazingly successful new products (such as the iMac, iPod, iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch), and in 2018, became the first company to be worth $1 trillion. Two years later, in 2020, Apple became the first company to cross the $2 trillion line.
It's a powerhouse, with a sticky environment -- once you own an iPhone, you're likely to choose an Apple smart watch, and other Apple products and services. While phones deliver much of Apple's revenue, its services such as the App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay, iCloud, AppleCare, and Apple TV+ contribute a lot, too -- and they sport fatter profit margins. In its last fiscal year, services delivered 22% of revenue. The company spent a whopping $72.5 billion on share buybacks, too, boosting the value of each remaining share. Apple is a stock I love owning, as I watch what it does next.
It's probably not hard to imagine why I'd want to hang on to my Amazon.com shares forever. The company is an amazingly dominant retailer -- and it's developed some major other business lines, too, such as its Amazon Web Services (AWS), which grew 29% to $11.6 billion in the company's third quarter, and boasts a 33% market share in its industry. Want more? Amazon's Prime Video, as of last year, had 65% of respondents in the Statista Global Consumer Survey saying that they paid for video content from it, second only to Netflix and its 85%. Amazon is also looking to get into the healthcare arena, having bought the online pharmacy PillPack and opened an Amazon Care virtual clinic in Seattle, and it has a $2 billion venture capital enterprise targeting young businesses tackling climate change.
Clearly, with pockets full of cash and more cash coming in all the time -- the pandemic has only helped spur Amazon's online retail operations, including its Whole Food grocery deliveries -- Amazon is in a position to enter plenty of new businesses in a bold way. Meanwhile, Amazon has been hiring in a big way -- adding more than 400,000 workers in the first 10 months of 2020, many of them permanent hires.
Finally, there's American Express. It's not as exciting as Apple and Amazon (to me, at least), but its performance and growth prospects do give me a warm glow. It was founded way back in 1850, before the Civil War -- and it's still around, with a market value recently near $94 billion. It's a major player in credit cards, with 114 million cards in force as of the end of 2019. It's among the top 15 companies in Fortune's "Best Companies to Work For" and "World's Most Admired Companies" lists.
American Express is unlikely to grow as briskly as Amazon.com or Apple, but it's not too stodgy, either. It acquired fintech company Kabbage, a small-business lending specialist, and it's expanding its operations into China. Both those moves can be growth drivers. Meanwhile, it's also growing its core businesses -- for example, adding millions of merchants who accept AmEx cards for payments.
American Express is a solid dividend-paying stock, too, recently yielding 1.5%. It has increased that payout by an annual average of 8.2% over the past five years, too.
These are just three of many compelling stocks out there. If any of them interest you, give them a closer look to see whether they'd be a good fit for your portfolio.