When it comes to saving and investing for retirement, millennials aren't yet all-in.
A 2014 survey by brokerage and financial services firm Fidelity found that only 47% of the millennials aged between 25-34 years have started to save for retirement, with 43% indicating they have a 401(k) and 23% indicating they have an IRA. And since research shows that mutual funds rarely outperform the market on a consistent basis, millennials would be wise to build up their long-term holdings today.
To help millennials build the nest eggs they'll need in retirement, we've asked four Motley Fool contributors to make the case for their favorite long-term holdings. Read on to see how investing in Chipotle (CMG -0.45%), Facebook (META -1.26%), Twitter (TWTR), and Apple (AAPL 0.48%) today could result in decades of earnings growth and, in at least one case, dividends.
Andres Cardenal (Chipotle Mexican Grill): It's much easier to invest in a company for the long term when you share its values and appreciate its products, and millennials have a particularly strong appetite for Chipotle's burritos made with integrity. According to a Consumer Reports survey among 32,000 fast-food regulars, Chipotle ranks at the top of the industry when it comes food quality and consumer preferences, especially among millennials.
Chipotle is at the forefront of a wider food industry trend. Food industry research indicates that millennials are turning away from traditional fast food in favor of better food and a more enjoyable experience overall. They are more concerned with how food is raised and prepared than previous generations and are willing to seek out and pay a little more for something they recognize as better tasting, better for the environment, and better for their well-being. Steve Ells, chairman and co-CEO of Chipotle, even highlighted this trend in the company's third-quarter earnings conference call, too.
Beyond its values, Chipotle's financial performance is nothing short of breathtaking. The company reported a spicy 27.8% increase in revenues during 2014. With only 1,783 restaurants as of the end of last year, Chipotle enjoys enormous room for expansion, both in the U.S. and abroad.
Brian Stoffel (Facebook): Goldman Sachs released an interesting report earlier this year on millennials' coming of age. It included a lot of fascinating details, but one stood out to me above all the rest: social media is front and center for this generation.
Perhaps the most telling sign of this was when researchers asked people the following question: "After searching online, how do you communicate with others about a service, product, or brand?" Among Boomers, only 11% said they would use social media. Among Gen X'ers, 25% said they use social media. But among millennials, 38% responded that they would use social media.
While that may sound low, it was the second-highest response, coming in behind "text-messaging," which had a 44% response rate. Here's where Facebook will really come out on top: it is already the #1 social media site in the world, and with the addition of WhatsApp, it will continue to be a force in text messaging as well. In other words, the company has a coup on global millennial communication.
Even more important, companies look at results like this and see how valuable advertising on Facebook's properties will be. There's a monumental shift in advertising dollars that's about to take place -- largely because of the behavior of millennials -- and Facebook is sitting right in the sweet spot of this shift.
Tim Beyers (Twitter): Millennials have the advantage of time, and it'll take time for Twitter to realize its vision of capitalizing on a $14 billion annual revenue opportunity.
Fortunately, there's reason to believe it can. Digital advertising is on the rise, set to grow by at least 12% annually between now and 2019. Mobile could grow even faster thanks to the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, leading TV networks strongly pitching "second-screen" experiences, and live tweeting events in order to draw more same-day viewers. Twitter's real-time allure has slowed the DVR's advance while serving as a key source of breaking news and commentary.
Best of all, Twitter's growth is no longer fully dependent on how well users engage with its website. The company is working on deals that will allow for placing ads and promoted tweets in Twitter feeds built into other websites. Think of it like Twitter's version of AdSense, a business that earns over $1 billion a quarter for Google right now. Scaling up Twitter's ad serving to a similar level will take years, but that's also the point. Millennials have more than enough time to wait for Twitter's big dreams to turn into a profit-making reality.
Dan Caplinger (Apple): Millennials are quite familiar with Apple, as the company's biggest success story started right after the turn of the millennium with the launch of iTunes and the iPod. Almost 15 years later, Apple now stands as the largest company in the stock market, and it continues to make the most of its success in the mobile-device market by continually allowing its existing product lines to evolve and reach out to a wider customer base.
Despite Apple's future growth prospects, many of those who follow the stock have increasingly seen Apple as more of a stable income play. Activist investors have lobbied hard to get Apple to increase its dividend and buy back more share in an effort to return capital to shareholders, and the biggest reason why Apple's 1.5% dividend yield looks so scanty is that the stock has soared by almost 150% in less than two years' time.
Some fear that its colossal size makes Apple a poor investment, pointing to the track record of other market leaders that have inevitably fallen from grace. Yet with a combination of increasingly dependable dividend income and the prospect for new and innovative products to keep its reputation for growth alive, Apple still makes a good long-term play for millennial investors despite its huge size.
Now that you have four distinct perspectives from our top contributors, which one do you think is most-convincing? Least-convincing? Let us know in the comments section below.