Sam Adams maker Boston Beer could be worth a closer look. Image: Boston Beer.

Short-term traders abound in the stock market, trying to outdo each other in an effort to get rich quick. Yet if you really want to capitalize on the life-changing wealth opportunity that the stock market offers, thinking long-term is a better way to put the odds in your favor. Companies that have demonstrated an ability to excel in their industries are often good prospects for long-term investors, and below, you'll find three such stocks that are definitely worth a closer look for those seeking solid returns from their investment portfolios over a long time horizon.

PayPal is dominating the industry it created
Just this past summer, investors got their first chance to buy shares of PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL) as an independent company. The payments platform has become a huge player in the electronic-payment industry, starting from its roots in primarily catering to customers of online auctions but then slowly but surely expanding beyond that business to offer smartphone-based payments as well as brick-and-mortar merchant support and even physical cards. With about a third of the company's transactions now happening on mobile devices, PayPal has done a better job than many of its tech counterparts in adapting to the new mobile world.

PayPal obviously faces threats from rival payment systems, including the two major players in the mobile operating system world as well as social-network companies aiming to facilitate greater interaction among their members. Nevertheless, with a considerable head-start on some smaller players in the industry and with a solid track record of holding off large competitors thus far, PayPal could well turn out to be the big winner in mobile payments in the long run.

Nordstrom is all things to all shoppers
The retail industry is full of companies that have been fashionable briefly before going out of style. Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN), though, has a long history of catering to a wide variety of shoppers with a strong reputation for customer service. The retailer's namesake department stores appeal to a high-end audience that has given Nordstrom some of the same advantages that specialty luxury retailers saw in the aftermath of the financial crisis, but the company also serves the discount niche through its Nordstrom Rack stores.


Image: Nordstrom.

Nordstrom has done a good job of embracing e-commerce and finding strategic combinations that have furthered its overall mission while letting it branch out and diversify its exposure to the consumer economy. Given how strong conditions have been for consumers in its core U.S. market, Nordstrom seems poised to enjoy continued success in the near-term, and its ability to adapt should keep it relevant among the big players of the retail world.

Boston Beer is crafting profits
Amid nine-figure deals in the mass-produced beer industry, Boston Beer (NYSE:SAM) has kept its claim to fame in successfully bridging the gap from craft-brewing to ramping up production to meet demand. The maker of Sam Adams helped pioneer the rise of craft beers, spawning a whole new industry encompassing microbreweries across the world.

More recently, competition has reared up, forcing Boston Beer to retrench. Yet through alternative beverages like Angry Orchard, Twisted Tea, Traveler, and Coney Island Hard Root Beer, the company expects to be able to cater to a wider range of patrons and hopefully expand its growth prospects beyond beer. Keeping an underdog vibe while still growing is always a challenge for a new player in an industry, but Boston Beer has kept that balance well so far and should be able to do so in the future as well.

Short-term trading is a dicey proposition, but long-term investing has helped millions get to where they want to be financially. These stocks aren't guaranteed to be the big winners of tomorrow, but they have prospects that make them at least worth considering for their risk-reward proposition.

Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Boston Beer and PayPal Holdings. The Motley Fool recommends Nordstrom. 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.