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7 stocks for the next 15 years

Kiplinger Logo By James K. Glassman of Kiplinger | Slide 1 of 8: new caption

Playing the long game

My advice to investors has always been to buy stocks for the long term. What’s long? When you purchase a stock, you should think of yourself as a partner in the business forever -- or until you need the cash. But forever, or even 30 years, is way out on the dim horizon. A more manageable view might be 15 years. If you invest $10,000 today in a stock that returns an average of 12 percent per year (a return that is 2 percentage points higher than the historic long-term return of Standard & Poor's 500 index), you’ll end up with about $55,000.

Not all stocks, however, are suitable long-term buys. A company you expect to be wedded to for 15 years should have six characteristics: products that can endure and aren’t fads; a history of leaders who can adapt; a strong balance sheet; a benign competitive environment; a track record of innovation balanced by vigilance against taking on too much risk; and a strategy that looks beyond the next year and certainly beyond the next quarter.

It’s hard to find all of those traits in one company. But if you're going long, here are seven that have staying power and a good shot at delivering 12 percent annualized returns.

© Kevin Lam/Newsom/Reuters

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