All investors love growth. This is a natural affinity: Absolutely huge scores of money are made by buying companies that grow relentlessly for years. And plenty of investors subscribe to the growth style of investing. They latch onto the next big thing -- sizzling fields such as biotech, nanotech, or the Internet -- in the hope that such stocks will soar.
But when I talk about relentless growers, I'm not talking about freshmen like Google
No, I'm looking at stocks such as Target
How great is that? If you have $10,000 today and invest it in stocks returning 20% annually for 25 years, you will have almost $1 million by the end. What's that? You're 30 years old and have 35 years until retirement? Well, in that case, that $10,000 will turn into a sweet $5.9 million.
Where are these stocks?
These sorts of opportunities are all over, and you probably know many of their names. Some of them are obscure, but many are not. Back in 1990, pretty well every 7-year-old had heard of Band-Aid and every 21-year-old knew about Tylenol. At that point, you could have bought Johnson & Johnson
Relentless growers can also be found in the financial industry. Citigroup
In each case, I'm simply looking at a 15-year record and not attempting to cherry pick a purchase date when the stock was undervalued. I admit that I am picking strong companies with impressive growth records, but that's the point. You find these sorts of stocks by looking for companies that have a history of crushing smaller competitors on the way to inexorable growth. If I'm betting on a fight, my money's on Lennox Lewis, not Mary Poppins.
And none of these companies are tech companies. Although there are some relentless growers in technology today -- eBay
Buy what brokers hate
Another great trait these stocks have is that they're often one-decision stocks. Because they have a strong brand, a dominating manufacturing division, or a natural monopoly, they won't fold the minute decent competition surfaces. In other words, you never have to make another decision -- you never have to sell.
Of course, this isn't what Wall Street would like you to do. They'd want you to trade frequently, based on the latest news and the Street's habitually incorrect short-term recommendations. In the Street's ideal world, you'd turn over your entire portfolio several times a year. After all, financial firms make money when you trade, both through commissions and the bid-ask spreads. They make almost nothing if you grow wealthy by holding great companies.
The next step
After you've identified these dominant, relentlessly growing companies, the next step is to pick them up when they're dirt cheap.
The most common misconception about value investing is that we just buy boring companies for less than their intrinsic value and wait for them to return to their fair value. Maybe that's how your grandfather invested, but that's not how we work. Value investors love the huge win as much as growth investors. Buffett became a billionaire by buying relentless growers at cheap prices.
At the Motley FoolInside Value newsletter, we dream about purchasing relentless growers when they're on sale. We know that buying a company's assets at 50 cents on the dollar is a bargain, but we also know that it's much more of a bargain when that company is able to grow those assets worth $1 today to $10 over the course of a decade.
As a result, more than half of our recommendations at Inside Value are relentless growers priced at a discount. And the strategy works. Our 2004 picks are up an average of 25% since Inside Value chief Philip Durell identified them for subscribers.
If you're interested in joining the Inside Value team in our search for relentless growers priced at a discount, click here to try a free 30-day trial. We pick through the market in order to recommend two extraordinary companies a month. By signing on, you can look at all our research, including every recommendation we've made since we began the publication. If you don't see the value in what we provide, leave during the free trial with no worries and no hassles.
Richard Gibbons, a member of the Inside Value team, knows he's not supposed to love stocks, but he's at least in lust with some relentless growers. He owns call options on Cisco, but does not have a financial position in any other companies mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.