Contrary to a commonly held belief, the buy-and-hold approach to investing isn't dead. It's not even on the defensive, nor does it only work if you find the market's up-and-comers at the right time. You can still reap huge profits using blue-chip stocks well after they've become blue chips.
Here's a closer look at three familiar names that dished out triple-digit percentage gains on their stocks just within the past few years, and could do the same again over the course of the next few years.
Alphabet (GOOG 5.34%) (GOOGL 5.32%) is of course the company behind search engine behemoth Google, which according to GlobalStats' statcounter handles more than 90% of the world's web searches -- a market share the company has enjoyed for a long, long time. The Google brand also accounts for around two-thirds of Alphabet's top line, and (for the time being, anyway) all of the company's actual profits.
And what profit growth we've seen. Last year's net income of $76 billion is leaps and bounds better than the $9.7 billion bottom line the company produced 10 years ago, back in 2011. The stock's price has rallied nearly 800% during that timeframe, from $305 per share then to $2,720 now.
That's a tough act to follow, leading some investors to think Alphabet's highest-growth days are behind it. And, perhaps they are. The world certainly seems to already be using the world wide web as much as it feasibly can. What's left to drive future growth?
As it turns out though, there's still plenty of opportunities for Alphabet to continue its expansion. The company's Android is also the world's most popular mobile operating system, with GlobalStats data indicating it's installed on 70% of the world's actively used mobile devices. This market isn't saturated yet, meaning there's plenty more growth potential in the cards for the advertisement and app-selling platform. In the meantime, Alphabet continues to refine its YouTube property, which boasts 2 billion users per month consuming over 1 billion hours' worth of video content every single day. Alphabet is also showing strong growth in the ever-expanding area of cloud services with its Google Cloud offering.
It's not known or viewed by investors as a high-octane investment, but Walmart (WMT -0.66%) stock has been surprisingly rewarding in recent years despite the fact that Amazon (AMZN 1.63%) has encroached on its turf. Shares of the world's biggest brick-and-mortar retailer are up more than 90% for the past five years, and higher by 125% for the past 10. That reflects annualized revenue growth from $440 billion then to more than $570 billion now.
Profits haven't grown nearly as much, but for good reason -- the company continues to invest in it is future, and in e-commerce in particular. Walmart's also earmarked $14 billion specifically for automation and supply chain improvements, which are ultimately meant to support its growing online marketplace.
There's more going on here, however, than the establishment of an e-commerce presence that can at least compete with Amazon.com. Its online shopping efforts are just part of a bigger-picture effort to become more of a lifestyle company akin to Amazon. Primary healthcare, premium private label wine, subscription-based delivery of online orders, and tech-installation services are all part of the bigger plan to make Walmart the go-to name consumers lean on.
In that, the plan is working (albeit it at a snail's pace), don't be surprised to see shares double again over the course of the next 10 years.
While nearly everything Walmart does these days is first and foremost meant to combat Amazon.com, that hasn't prevented the e-commerce giant from growing like crazy. Amazon's revenue has improved from 2011's $48 billion to last year's $470 billion. The stock's up more than 1,700% for that timeframe, however, buoyed by earnings growth that has dramatically outpaced sales growth thanks to the launch of the company's cloud computing arm, Amazon Web Services. As it turns out, cloud computing is a considerably more profitable venture than selling merchandise online is.
It's unlikely Amazon stock will be able to repeat the feat by 2032. A great deal of the rally stems from the fact that not many people saw the growth coming, and therefore underestimated the stock back in 2012. Investors won't make the same mistake again.
Still, even producing half of the gain it produced over the course of the past 10 years during the next 10 years would be a huge win for shareholders.
And there's little reason to dismiss the possibility. Amazon is constantly evolving in ways that set the stage for more growth. For instance, the company confirmed it generated $31 billion worth of advertising revenue last year, and that's despite the service being relatively young, unrefined, and not fully understood by advertisers. Other more nuanced growth drivers include payment services, point-of-sale solutions, and even a grocery store business that cements its relationships with consumers in place. There's certainly no reason not to expect more big things from the company, and its stock.