It's not easy to find a stock that you have the conviction to hold over the long term. Economic cycles result in changes to the business landscape, while the recent pandemic has further altered human habits and practices. However, the crisis has also allowed investors to assess which companies have remained resilient throughout the downturn.

Some companies have even thrived despite the pandemic because their business models are geared toward a digital world. The online shift has been greatly accelerated and companies that could latch onto this trend witnessed healthy growth. A strong competitive moat, coupled with healthy fundamentals, lends further support as to why these businesses can thrive over years or even decades.

Here are three stocks that I can justify holding forever.

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1. American Tower

American Tower (NYSE:AMT) is in a sweet spot right now. The real estate investment trust (REIT) owns and operates around 187,000 communications sites around the world that are leased to wireless service providers and reputable telecommunication companies such as AT&T and T-Mobile. Rising digital adoption has led to an increase in demand for data usage, resulting in many carriers looking to upgrade their fourth-generation (4G) networks to fifth-generation (5G) ones.

CEO Tom Bartlett highlighted this favorable industry trend during the company's latest earnings call. American Tower's customers should accelerate their network deployments over the next few years as the average smartphone user in the U.S. is expected to consume more than 50 gigabits of data on a monthly basis by 2026, increasing by 30% per year from the current 15 gigabits. An increasing number of augmented and virtual reality applications also consume significantly more data, acting as a strong tailwind for a 5G network revolution.

Not only has American Tower displayed a consistent trend of increasing distributions by an average of 20% per year, the REIT has also been active in acquiring to further grow its already impressive portfolio. Last month, the Latin American tranche of its Telxius Towers acquisition was concluded, thereby adding more than 7,000 sites to the REIT's portfolio. American Tower can rely on the 5G catalyst and such acquisitions to continue posting healthy growth for many more years.

2. PayPal

The importance of easy online payments and the convenience of a digital wallet cannot be overemphasized, and PayPal Holdings (NASDAQ:PYPL) excels in these two areas. PayPal operates a platform that helps to facilitate digital payment transactions between customers and merchants and has seen its business increase by leaps and bounds as the pandemic led to a wave of digitalization among businesses and individuals.

Even before the pandemic, the company was displaying steady growth, with revenue and net income trending upward. The pandemic helped to significantly boost PayPal's numbers. Revenue started at $10.8 billion in 2016 and ended at $21.4 billion in 2020, while net income witnessed a sharper surge, tripling over the same period from $1.4 billion to $4.2 billion. The momentum has carried over into its fiscal 2021 first quarter as well, with total payment volume (TPV) jumping by 50% year over year to $285 billion and revenue growing 31% year over year to $6 billion. To top it off, PayPal also added 14.5 million new accounts to end the quarter with 392 million accounts. 

This growth shows no signs of slowing down. PayPal is well positioned for a digital future, as evidenced by the strong performance of its digital wallet, Venmo. Venmo's year-over-year TPV growth stood at 63% and is very popular among younger customers, helping the company to bring in even more accounts. With PayPal firing on many cylinders, it's not unreasonable to expect the company to report continued healthy growth in TPV, revenue, and net income.

3. Adobe

You may not realize it, but every time you open up a PDF document, you're probably using one of Adobe's (NASDAQ:ADBE) many products. The software company also offers an impressive suite of tools and services such as digital signatures, customer business intelligence, and social media video creation, among others.

This impressive array of services has successfully powered the company's growth over the years. Revenue started out at $5.9 billion in 2016 but has more than doubled to $12.9 billion by 2020. Net income has seen an even more impressive surge from $1.2 billion to $5.3 billion over the same period. The power of Adobe's business lies in its subscription-based model for services such as Document Cloud, Creative Cloud, and Experience Cloud, which offer clients a plethora of useful functions to assist their businesses.

In the six months ended June 4, the company grew its subscription revenue by nearly 28% year over year to $7.1 billion, making up close to 92% of its total revenue. And as more businesses digitalize, Adobe's total addressable market will rise in tandem, providing the company with new opportunities to capture more business. The company estimates that by 2023, its total addressable market will have grown to around $147 billion, driven by a combination of remote work, new media types, and its ability to cross-sell its services.

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.