Ask a Fool: How Can I Find Stocks to Hold for 50 Years?

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Q: I'm 23 and recently started investing. How can I find stocks that will outperform the market until I retire and then some?

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The best thing a young investor can do is to buy stocks that could grow steadily for decades. There are a few things to look for in stocks that will stand the test of time. A healthy balance sheet with a low debt load and a steady, established track record of revenue and earnings growth are good places to start.

The most important thing I look for in a "forever stock" is a durable competitive advantage in an industry that will always be needed. Warren Buffett refers to this as a "wide moat." Examples of durable competitive advantages include cost advantages, patents, a high barrier to entry in the industry, valuable brand names, or a superior product, just to name a few.

One such company with a wide moat is Procter & Gamble. The consumer goods giant has a portfolio of brand names that give it pricing power over rivals, a vast and efficient distribution network, and a long record of revenue growth over time. Apple is another good example. The company has an extremely loyal customer base, pricing power, and one of the most attractive balance sheets in the market.

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Matthew Frankel owns shares of AAPL. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends AAPL. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2020 $150 calls on AAPL and short January 2020 $155 calls on AAPL. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.