Is There a Safe Fifty-year Investment?

This question came to mind when we read an article by The Motley Fool, 3 Growth Stocks to Buy and Hold for the Next 50 Years. First of all, we give you their thoughts on the subject and then ours.

In today’s world of high-speed trading and short attention spans, it might seem unfathomable to hold any given stock for years, let alone decades. But the world’s best investors know all too well the best way to consistently beat the market is to buy high-quality stocks and hold them for extended periods.

To that end, we asked three Motley Fool contributors to each discuss a growth stock they think investors could do well to buy and hold for the next 50 years. Read on to learn why they chose Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG)(NASDAQ:GOOGL), iQiyi (NASDAQ:IQ), and Shopify (NYSE:SHOP).

The rationale for each of these stocks is that they have the potential for significant long term growth. People who invested in American companies like AT&T, General Motors, Coca Cola, or Eastman Kodak early in the 20th century had at least 50 years of growth. These stocks grew with the US economy as phone service was extended to every corner of the land, more and more people had a car or two or three, everyone took photos, and everyone loved to have a Coke. It is useful to note that only Coca Cola has passed into the century relatively unscathed while digital photography essentially killed Kodak, General Motors lost out to foreign competition and passed through bankruptcy, and AT&T was broken up in anti-trust proceedings.

Reasons to Invest in Alphabet Stock

The rationale for investing in Alphabet is that they are using the dominance of the world of internet searches to fund their expansion into multiple, potentially very profitable arenas. Today eight of their products have more than a billion users each. These are Google Play Store, Gmail, YouTube, Android, Chrome, Google Drive, Google Search, and Google Maps. With their restructuring, they are now active in self-driving cars with Waymo, lifespan extension with Loon, drone delivery with Wing, life science products with Verily, and high-speed internet with Fiber. This “multiple bets” approach takes advantage of the huge number of smart people working for Alphabet and positions them for further growth in markets that are not dependent on the original internet search focus. This strategy will, hopefully, help them avoid the fate of Kodak whose business model became extinct, AT&T which was taken apart by anti-trust action, or General Motors whose product line came under unceasing attack from foreign competition.

When asking is there a safe fifty-year investment look at Alphabet with its many branches like Waymo Self-Driving Cars
Waymo Self-driving Car (Alphabet)

Reasons to Invest in iQiyi

iQiyi is a Chinese company that was spun off from Baidu a year ago but which maintains a close relationship. The company is referred to as the Netflix of China. They aim to make premium subscription videos their core business. Right now they serve 20% of Chinese households compared to the 70% of American households that use Netflix. Considering that China has 1.3 billion people compared to 311million in the USA, the company has a lot more room to grow. Additionally, they are in video games and working on virtual reality. Right now the stock price is attractive because of the trade war between the USA and China. But, this is a Chinese company doing business in China and, would seem to be a Chinese company safe from tariffs. This company can be compared to Netflix, Microsoft, Apple, and other tech stories or to the early to mid-twentieth century stories of General Motors, AT&T, Coca Cola, and Eastman Kodak.

Reasons to Invest in Shopify

The rationale for investing in this company is that they appear to be well-positioned to take advantage of an expanding market in e-commerce. They are the “pick and shovel” approach when everyone wants to dig for gold. That is to say, Shopify assists businesses both large and small in selling their services and products online. This business niche is expected to grow to $25 Trillion by 2025. This company has a nice growth story but not the same sort of story as Alphabet or iQiyi when it comes to a fifty-year investment.

Is There a Safe Fifty-year Investment?

As we noted at the beginning, the Motley Fool article with its three suggested investments brought us to ask the question, is there a safe fifty-year investment? We write about the concept of intrinsic stock value so much that our readers can be forgiven if they get bored with the idea. Nevertheless, the best stocks to invest in are almost always ones that do well in intrinsic value analysis. However, this sort of fundamental analysis needs to be repeated on a routine basis. That is simply because the fundamentals change over time. New technologies replace old and Kodak goes from being the king of film, process, and printing photos to a footnote. Antitrust actions catch up with AT&T and break it up. The development of container shipping to support the Vietnam War effort brings cheap foreign products to America and undercuts American businesses including General Motors. The point is that in order to pick a safe fifty-year investment you need to be able to see into the future. What sort of investments will still be paying off half a century from now?

Your Home Is a Safe Fifty-year Investment

This is another point that we bring up every time that we write about how to start investing. You need a place to live and it is cheaper to own than to rent. The federal tax break for mortgage interest is unlikely to go away in the next fifty years. It is popular on both sides of the political divide and serves a good purpose of societal and financial stability. So, is there a safe fifty-year investment in home ownership? You bet there is and you should be taking advantage of that as early in your investing life as possible.

Are Investments That Don’t Lose Money Really Safe Investments?

We have written about how to invest without losing any money. Over the duration of a US Treasury, Bank CD, or AAA Bond, these are safe investments. You give up the potential for larger gains in return for protection against financial loss. But, over a fifty-year time span is there a safe investment in this arena? The problem with long term bank deposits, Treasuries, and AAA Bonds is that they may barely keep up with inflation or may even fall behind. As such, you will preserve your dollars at the same time that your dollars inflate and become less valuable. The closer you are to needing your investments in retirement the more you will want to be invested in this manner but over a fifty-year timespan, you need an investment that grows faster.

Is there a safe Fifty-year investment in AAA bonds or will inflation erase your earnings?
AAA Bond Rating

Dividend Stocks for Long Term Investing

In our article about dividend stocks, we provided a list of companies that have been paying dividends for more than 120 years. To keep paying dividends for this long the company has to be making money. Over the years, dividend stocks tend to outpace the market. As such, a safe fifty-year investment might come from a list of dividend stocks.

Technology Stocks for Long Term Investing

Is there a safe fifty-year investment in the tech arena? The telephone, automobile, and the film camera were “high tech” at the beginning of the 1900s. Companies that got in early and performed well dominated American business for nearly a century. And then they didn’t. The risk with tech is that you need a company that can “think on its feet” and not “rest on its laurels.” IBM comes to mind as a company that dominated the computer world until they missed the boat with small computers. Their mistakes allowed companies like Apple and Microsoft to become giants in the ever-evolving computer world. In this regard, we like Alphabet as much because it is diversifying and hedging its bets as for its dominance of internet search.

Safe Fifty-year Investments Are Ones That You Keep an Eye On

The bottom line for picking long term investments is that you need to choose wisely and, more importantly, you need to stay in touch with your investments. Whether your choice is an ETF that tracks the S&P 500 or an individual stock like Alphabet, you need to know why you choose that investment and you need to keep track to make sure that the investment still meets your criteria.

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