3 High-Yield Stocks to Hold Forever

Markets Motley Fool

As Warren Buffett once said, "Time is your friend. Impulse is your enemy. Take advantage of compound interest and don't be captivated by the siren song of the market." That's some sage advice.

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Populating your portfolio with sturdy, income-generating companies, setting the dividends to reinvest, and letting time and the power of compound interest take care of the rest is one of the surest paths to wealth creation. With that in mind, we asked a panel of three Motley Fool investors to profile a top dividend stock that can be held for the ultra-long term. Here's why General Motors (NYSE: GM), IBM (NYSE: IBM), and PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP) made the list.

An old-school giant set to thrive in the high-tech future

John Rosevear (General Motors): "Forever" is a long time, especially given the disruptive forces unleashed by new technologies like machine learning. But I think that even within industries in which disruption seems imminent, we can find companies that are better bets than most to not just survive, but thrive amid the changes.

So let's talk about General Motors. For starters, forget everything you know about old GM: Here in 2017, CEO Mary Barra has GM in a strongly profitable position in today's car business, and already positioned to be a leader in tomorrow's.

Today, GM is reaping fat profits from a new lineup of crossover SUVs that is selling like hotcakes in both the U.S. and China. Over the next couple of years, it'll boost its margins further with all-new pickup trucks and an expanded luxury lineup. And looking down the road a little further, GM has already put itself in a leadership position with electric vehicles and autonomous-driving technology, while embracing (and investing in) new shared-mobility business models. 

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There's a lot to like about GM's stock right now, too. While Wall Street has recently caught on to GM's story, it's still pretty cheap at just over 7 times earnings. And it pays a good dividend (yielding 3.6% at current prices) that it expects to be able to sustain through the next recession, whenever it happens. And forget those old worries about debt: GM's balance sheet is solidly investment-grade, and it has a fat cash reserve to ensure that it stays that way. 

Finally up and moving

Tim Brugger: (IBM) Last quarter was a definitive step in the right direction as IBM continues its transformation. Strategic imperatives -- which include the cloud, cognitive computing, mobile, and data security -- are finally gaining traction which is a key reason IBM is a stock to hold forever.

As a group,  strategic imperatives reported an 11% jump in revenue to $8.8 billion last quarter led by $4.1 billion in cloud sales, good for a 20% improvement. Even more telling is that IBM's strategic imperatives accounted for 46% of its $19.2 billion in total revenue last quarter. IBM's total sales were essentially flat year-over-year.

As impressive as IBM's annual cloud revenue run-rate of $15.8 billion is, for long-term investors, it's the trailing $9.4 billion in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) delivered via the cloud that bodes well for the future. Many pundits point to cloud software as one of, if not the, biggest opportunity in the years ahead and IBM is leading the charge.

Not only is IBM's growth coming from its strategic imperatives segment, it's doing so while at the same time cutting overhead. For the year , IBM has pared $1.6 billion equal to 8%, off its operating expenses.

In addition to the seemingly limitless upside cutting-edge markets including the cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), and data security represent, IBM and its 4% dividend yield remains one of the least expensive stocks in its sector. IBM stock is trading  at a mere 12.7 times earnings, well below its peer group average of 20.2 times trailing earnings.

Stack dividends with this consumer goods giant

Keith Noonan (PepsiCo): When you're looking for income-generating, "set it and forget it" stocks that can be held for the ultra-long term, it's crucial that the underlying business has sustainable competitive advantages that will allow the company to continue returning value to shareholders. PepsiCo fits the bill and has a formidable moat created by one of the strongest brand portfolios in the food-and-beverage space and a virtually unrivaled manufacturing-and-distribution network that insulates it from competitors.

While domestic demand for soda is weakening, there's still considerable room for soft-drink growth in international markets, and the company has plenty of growth avenues in other categories. Pepsi already has a diversified product portfolio, and it's making commendable progress on adapting its offerings to meet changing consumer tastes. With pricing power afforded by its stellar brand catalog, a favorable long-term outlook for growth in international markets, and efficiency improvements related to automation on the horizon, Pepsi looks well positioned to deliver sustainable earnings and free-cash-flow growth that's passed on to shareholders.

The stock currently comes with a 2.9% yield, and, with a 45-year history of delivering annual payout growth, it's safe to say that the company is interested in maintaining its tremendous dividend track record. PepsiCo already boasts one of the best dividend profiles in the consumer goods space, and, thanks to its sturdy business, shareholders can count on it getting better with time. 

10 stocks we like better than IBM
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John Rosevear owns shares of General Motors. Keith Noonan has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Tim Brugger has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends PepsiCo. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.