There is no better vehicle for creating wealth than investing in stocks. Not gold, not bonds, not real estate. While over short periods of time one asset class or another may outperform stocks, the long-term results prove that if you want to accumulate large amounts of wealth, investing in stocks is the way to go.
Last year Deutsche Bank published a study showing that over the past 100 years, equities beat out gold by 5.6% per year, housing prices by 6.6%, Treasuries by 6.8%, and oil by 8.4% per year.
There have been only two decades when stocks have had negative returns: the Great Depression of the 1930s and the 2000s when a combination of the Tech Wreck, 9/11, and the housing bubble bursting all conspired to sink the market, causing negative returns of 0.5% and 0.9%, respectively.
It's clear that for investors wanting the best chance of having a comfortable retirement, investing in stocks and staying in the market for the long haul is the correct strategy. That's why the nuggets of investing wisdom that says "it's not about timing the market, but your time in the market" is so true.
By the time working Americans are ready for their gold watch, the following pair of winning stocks have the potential to make those who invested wealthy.
AGNC Investment Corp
Mortgage-backed securities (MBS) issued by the likes Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae are the key investments for agency mortgage REITs like AGNC Investment Corp (AGNC -3.76%). It doesn't originate mortgages, but rather buys and sells packaged government-backed MBSs from the so-called agencies (hence the acronym of its name).
That means AGNC doesn't really have credit risk, as mortgage deals of this type are very safe. Yet it does have interest rate risk and prepayment risk. Through Federal Reserve policies that keep interest rates artificially low, homeowners are induced to refinance their higher-rate mortgages for those sporting lower rates.
Last year, low interest rates especially encouraged homeowners to refinance and pay off their higher-rate mortgages early, which caused AGNC's constant prepayment rate (CPR), or the percentage of AGNC's portfolio it expects to be paid off within a year, to jump 60% in 2020 to 17.6%.
A lower CPR is better, because a loan that's paid off doesn't produce interest for its holder, which can lead to lower rates of return. However, as mortgage interest rates rose half a percentage point this year, AGNC's projected CPR fell to 11.6% at the end of June. That should continue as the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has risen 20 basis points over the past 30 days and is now at its highest level since April. Also, applications to refinance mortgages are 22% lower year over year.
AGNC trades at a roughly 5% discount to its June 30 book value per share of $17.39, and with a dividend currently yielding 8.7% annually based on today's stock price, this mREIT offers investors potential for capital appreciation and a steady stream of income.
Lowe's (LOW -0.05%) is benefiting from a seller's housing market. While rising mortgage interest rates may start to cool sales -- there are indications that's actually happening as mortgage applications to buy a home are down 12% year over year -- the home improvement center will simply benefit from consumers choosing to spruce up their existing digs, just as they did at the start of the pandemic.
Lowe's isn't a win-win stock per se, one that will gain regardless of which way the economy goes. It's much more resilient, and over the long haul has proven to be an exceptional investment. There's not much to suggest it won't continue to be, even as consumers try to adjust to runaway inflation that's sending prices of lumber, building materials, and most home goods to record levels.
Lowe's has long catered to the homeowner over the professional, while rival Home Depot is doing just the opposite. Yet several years ago Lowe's began an intensive effort to lure contractors in, and that effort has paid off. Professionals now account for 20% to 25% of its total sales (they represent about 45% of Home Depot's total).
With the home improvement market estimated to be $900 billion, split 50-50 between consumers and contractors, increasing its penetration into the professional market by just a little (not even achieving parity with Home Depot) ought to generate tens of millions of dollars a year more in sales.
Even though Lowe's stock is at record highs right now, it still trades for only about 18 times next year's earnings estimates, which is right around what Wall Street forecasts the DIY center's long-term earnings growth rate is.
It also pays a dividend that yields a modest 1.4% annually, a payout it has made every quarter since it went public in 1961. In fact, Lowe's has raised its dividend for 56 consecutive years, putting it in the rarefied group of stocks known as Dividend Kings and one investors should consider holding on to well into their retirement years.