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16 Painfully Boring Companies With Extraordinary Long-Term Returns

By Morgan Housel - Nov 27, 2012 at 11:39AM

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Simple company, huge returns.

The single-best stock to own over the last half-century had nothing to do with technology, innovation, or breakthroughs. It was cigarette giant Altria Group, which has returned an average of 20.5% a year since the 1960s. Take tobacco, stuff it into a paper tube, repeat. That has turned $1,000 into $3.7 million in fewer than 50 years.

In a world where whispers of the next big thing command most of the attention, the painfully boring Altria -- which today makes a product nearly identical to what it made a century ago -- has been one of the greatest success stories of all time.

I think that's amazing.

And that story isn't rare. There are dozens of put-you-to-sleep companies that have achieved incredible returns over the last 30, 40, even 50 years.

Keep in mind: Past performance doesn't indicate future returns. This isn't a buy list, but rather a demonstration of how companies that make ordinary products can generate extraordinary returns.

All of these charts are in log scale to more accurately show change:

16 Painfully Boring Companies with Extraordinary Long-Term Returns from The Motley Fool.

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Stocks Mentioned

Altria Group, Inc. Stock Quote
Altria Group, Inc.
$43.40 (2.09%) $0.89
Brown-Forman Corporation Stock Quote
Brown-Forman Corporation
$71.51 (2.89%) $2.01
General Mills, Inc. Stock Quote
General Mills, Inc.
$70.63 (2.39%) $1.65
Nucor Corporation Stock Quote
Nucor Corporation
$111.06 (4.73%) $5.02
V.F. Corporation Stock Quote
V.F. Corporation
$48.01 (2.72%) $1.27
The Valspar Corporation Stock Quote
The Valspar Corporation
PPG Industries, Inc. Stock Quote
PPG Industries, Inc.
$121.01 (5.82%) $6.65
McCormick & Company, Incorporated Stock Quote
McCormick & Company, Incorporated
$87.84 (2.74%) $2.34
The Clorox Company Stock Quote
The Clorox Company
$140.75 (0.46%) $0.64
Illinois Tool Works Inc. Stock Quote
Illinois Tool Works Inc.
$187.92 (4.34%) $7.82
Family Dollar Stores Inc. Stock Quote
Family Dollar Stores Inc.
Colgate-Palmolive Company Stock Quote
Colgate-Palmolive Company
$80.38 (1.90%) $1.50
Kansas City Southern Stock Quote
Kansas City Southern

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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