It's important to invest on a regular basis. Doing so helps eliminate the impact of short-term market volatility on your total returns, and it also protects you from the lure of market timing. No one knows the future, so trying to predict market highs and lows is a waste of time. Instead, it's much smarter to invest like clockwork, consistently setting aside a portion of each paycheck.

Building on that idea, both Lowe's (LOW -1.52%) and Shopify (SHOP -2.74%) look like smart additions to a long-term investor's portfolio. Here's what you should know about these two buy-and-hold-forever stocks.

Contemplative investor holding a newspaper.

Image source: Getty Images.

1. Lowe's

Lowe's is the world's second-largest home improvement retailer, bested only by Home Depot. The company operates over 1,900 stores across the U.S. and Canada -- serving both "do-it-yourself" consumers and professional clients -- each of which stocks roughly 40,000 items that span numerous categories, from lumber and tools to décor and appliances.

That scale gives the company an edge, especially in the highly fragmented market for home improvement products. And to reinforce that advantage, Lowe's has built a sizable logistics network that includes over 30 distribution centers (to receive and store products), as well as an array of cross-dock delivery terminals (to facilitate last-mile delivery). That infrastructure helps Lowe's maintain in-store inventory and ship products to consumers with greater efficiency than its smaller rivals.

Moreover, as its logistics network has expanded, Lowe's operating margin has trended upward, reaching 11.8% in the most recent quarter. Not surprisingly, that has supercharged the company's bottom-line growth.


Q2 2018 (TTM)

Q2 2021 (TTM)



$70.5 billion

$94.6 billion


Earnings per share




Source: YCharts. TTM = trailing-12-months. CAGR = compound annual growth rate. Note: Earnings per share is based on fully diluted share count.

Going forward, Lowe's is well-positioned to realize even greater profitability. As part of its perpetual productivity initiative, the company installed self-checkout kiosks in over 550 stores through the first half of 2021, aiming to improve the customer experience and cut payroll expenses. And while Lowe's will likely encounter headwinds from disrupted supply chains in the months ahead, it should fare better than its smaller rivals, which lack its logistics infrastructure and purchasing power.

For that reason, the current macroeconomic challenges could actually help Lowe's capture market share. And more broadly, the company has established a strong competitive position in a $900 billion market. That's why Lowe's stock looks like a smart long-term investment.

2. Shopify

Shopify is the world's most popular e-commerce platform. Its software helps businesses manage sales and inventory across physical and digital shops, including online marketplaces like Amazon, social media like Facebook, and custom websites. And Shopify supplements its software with an expanding array of value-added services, including payment processing (Shopify Payments), logistics (Shopify Shipping), and loans (Shopify Capital).

As a whole, Shopify's product portfolio simplifies omnichannel commerce, a value proposition made all the more compelling by the shift away from traditional retail. Case in point: Shopify's software now powers more than 1.7 million businesses around the world, up 113% from 2018. And the company has also seen strong demand for its services. For example, Shopify Payments handled 40% of payment volume in 2018, but that figure ticked up to 49% in the third quarter of 2021.

That illustrates an important concept. As merchants adopt additional products and services, the switching costs get higher, meaning it becomes more difficult for businesses to disentangle themselves from Shopify's ecosystem. That competitive advantage has translated into impressive financial results.


Q3 2018 (TTM)

Q3 2021 (TTM)



$952.1 million

$4.2 billion


Free cash flow

($30.6 million)

$458.2 million


Source: Shopify SEC filings, YCharts. TTM = trailing-12-months. CAGR = compound annual growth rate.

Going forward, shareholders have good reason to believe this momentum can continue. Shopify puts its market opportunity at a whopping $153 billion, and the founder-led management team has consistently delivered innovative new products.

Most recently, the company debuted Shopify Balance, a service that helps merchants separate business and personal expenses. Specifically, Shopify Balance includes a money management account and a linked debit card, allowing clients to view cash flow and pay bills related to their business. The company is also building out the Shopify Fulfillment Network, an array of robot-powered warehouses that will help merchants deliver items more quickly and cost-efficiently.

In both cases, these moves should make Shopify's ecosystem even stickier and more compelling, helping the company capitalize on its enormous market opportunity. And with the holiday season on the horizon, Shopify should see an uptick in sales in the near term. That's why this stock looks like a smart buy right now.