Foolish investors know that the best returns are almost always achieved with stocks that are held the longest. As opposed to Wall Street's frenetic daily and even split-second trading, we Fools like to think in terms of years, and even decades. So, we asked three top Motley Fool contributors to name the company they believe stands the best chance to crush the market over the next 10 years. Their answers? Baidu (NASDAQ: BIDU), Disney (NYSE:DIS), and Facebook (NASDAQ: FB). Read on to see why.
Brian Stoffel (Baidu): Baidu is my choice of the stock to own for the next decade. The company is my largest personal holding, having grown to almost 17% of my real-life holdings. Some might think such a high allocation is dangerous, but there are three big reasons I don't plan on selling any time soon.
First and foremost, Baidu dominates the Chinese search market. Though that dominance has been tested lately by Qihoo 360 (NYSE:QIHU), Baidu still owns about a 58% share.
More importantly, the company's investments in its mobile platform are paying off: Baidu boasts an 80% market share in mobile search. That focus on mobile is especially important when you consider that the average Chinese citizen is coming on-line in the age of mobile devices, instead of desktop PCs.
Which leads to my second point: The growth of Internet usage in China is still in its early stages. Simply giving you numbers about total citizens and Internet penetration rates alone doesn't tell the whole story. Instead, I like using the following visualization.
As more and more users come online, they will use Baidu to meet their search needs. As the company is able to amass data about its users, it will become an even more valuable advertising resource for its customers.
Finally, I'm encouraged by the company's decision to branch out into areas beyond just search. The 2013 acquisition of Wireless 91 -- a leading platform for mobile apps -- shows that Baidu's management is willing to follow the playbook set forth by Google (NASDAQ:GOOG)(NASDAQ:GOOGL) in the rest of the world. The company's burgeoning iQiyi video platform is only further proof that management sees no problem in copying what's worked in other markets.
Andrés Cardenal (Disney): The main factor to keep in mind when making investment decisions for the long term is competitive strength. You want to make sure you are investing in a business solid enough to continue producing growing sales and cash flows through good and bad economic times. The entertainment industry is particularly cyclical and competitive; however, Disney is no average industry player by any means.
Disney owns an enormously valuable portfolio of brands, including world-class names like ESPN, Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm. The company also gets to profit from a unique portfolio of fictional characters and intellectual properties, from Mickey Mouse to Darth Vader, going through many of the most popular and recognized names in the entertainment industry.
In addition, Disney has an unparalleled ability to monetize its assets via multiple platforms at the same time. A successful movie has a positive impact on merchandise sales, live shows, and parks attendance, for example. Considering that the company has the intellectual assets and human talent to continue producing successful content for years to come, things look good for investors in Disney from a financial point of view.
During the fiscal year ended in September of 2014 Disney announced its fourth consecutive year of record sales and earnings. Nobody knows for certain what the future may bring, but chances are, the company will be making new records over the coming decade.
Joe Tenebruso (Facebook): Facebook is a rare, transformational business that is fundamentally changing the way people interact and connect with each other. At more than 1.3 billion monthly active users, Facebook's network dwarfs that of its competitors, which has made gaining access to its platform increasingly important to advertisers around the world.
What may be surprising to investors, however, is that the social media giant -- even today with a market capitalization of more $225 billion -- currently only commands about 2% of the global advertising industry -- a massive market that is expected to surpass $600 billion in 2015.And the trend is certainly working in Facebook's favor, as more dollars migrate from traditional advertising to the Internet, where people around the globe are spending an ever increasing amount of their time.
In addition, Facebook is led by an exceptional management team, with a passionate co-founder at the helm in Mark Zuckerberg. While critics see him as a wild card and potential risk, I believe he has the making of an exceptional CEO. Under Zuckerberg's leadership, Facebook is quickly becoming a social media empire with an enviable collection of fast-growing properties such as Instagram and WhatsApp, which could someday approach 1 billion users in their own right.
Analysts are beginning to appreciate the value of these properties, with Citigroup recently placing a $35 billion valuation on Instagram – which Zuckerberg purchased for only $1 billion in 2012. This touches on another underappreciated aspect of Facebook's business: Zuckerberg's asset-allocation skills. Many skeptics have criticized Facebook for what they believe to be lavish spending on recent acquisitions, but if Zuckerberg and his team can earn returns anywhere in the vicinity of what they achieved with Instagram, Facebook shareholders will be well rewarded over the next decade.
Andrés Cardenal owns shares of Google (C shares) and Walt Disney. Brian Stoffel owns shares of Baidu, Facebook, Google (A shares), and Google (C shares). Joe Tenebruso has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Baidu, Facebook, Google (A shares), Google (C shares), and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Baidu, Facebook, Google (A shares), Google (C shares), and Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.