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3 Great Stocks You Can Buy and Hold Forever

Marriage vows expect us to be latching onto our beloveds for the rest of our lives, but when it comes to linking up with stocks, we are far less choosy -- since we can, and do, often abandon many of them after a few months or years.

We might do well to seek stocks that we can make bigger commitments to -- ones that we feel comfortable expecting to hold for many years or decades. Here are three such contenders to consider for your portfolio.

Image source: Getty Images.

1. Johnson & Johnson

One of the characteristics of a stock you can aim to hang onto for a very long time is that its offerings are ones you can be pretty sure people will still be buying decades from now. Smart watches and stylish water bottles may be popular today, but they may not be mainstays of life in the future. Enter Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), which has been around for some 135 years, since 1886. (That longevity alone suggests that the company has the ability to adapt to changing times and continue to prosper.)

J&J is a massive healthcare conglomerate, with a recent market value topping $400 billion -- more than that of Walt Disney, Verizon Communications, and Procter & Gamble, and roughly on par with that of Walmart. It sports three main divisions: Pharmaceuticals, medical devices (such as joint replacements and implants), and consumer health products. That last category features gobs of well-known and lucrative brands, such as Listerine, Band-Aid, Carefree, Stayfree, Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl, Zyrtec, Visine, Nicorette, Neutrogena, Aveeno, Rogaine, and Lubriderm -- among many others.

The company's diversity is another strength that can keep it going over the long run. If one product category were to become obsolete, others could make up for the loss. Johnson & Johnson is also a solid dividend-paying stock, recently yielding 2.5%. It may not grow as briskly as smaller companies, but it has deep pockets to buy or develop compelling new products, and it even has a COVID-19 vaccine in development. Meanwhile, at a minimum, it's likely to deliver a growing income stream over time.

2. 3M

3M (NYSE: MMM) is another storied stalwart, tracing its roots back to 1902. Like J&J, it's also a respectable dividend payer, with a payout that recently yielded 3.5% -- that has been hiked by an annual average of 7.5% over the past five years. The company has increased its dividend for more than 60 consecutive years.

3M, recently sporting a market value near $95 billion, boasts myriad products ranging from Post-it notes and Scotch tape to a wide range of abrasives, adhesives, filters, cleansers, and much more. Its stock is down about 34% from its all-time high roughly three years ago, though. That's partly due to the cyclical nature of its business -- which is in a down phase in large part due to the ongoing pandemic. Our economy will eventually recover, though, and demand for 3M's many offerings will pick up.

The company has also been underperforming its own expectations lately, which is a concern. But CEO Mike Roman is relatively new, coming on board in 2018, and has a restructuring under way, to help turn around the company's performance. Take a closer look at the company to see how much confidence you have in it. Patient believers can enjoy a meaningful dividend until the company's performance improves.

3. Marriott International

Finally, there's Marriott International (NASDAQ: MAR), which clearly has been hurt by the pandemic that has halted much personal and business travel. Indeed, it stopped its dividend early in 2020, while also cutting senior management salaries "significantly" and enacting other cost-cutting measures. Again, though, the pandemic will eventually be behind us, and it's hard to imagine business and pleasure travelers not returning to the roads and skies, and needing places to stay.

Marriott is one of the largest hotel companies on earth, with a portfolio that recently had more than 7,500 properties in 132 countries and territories. It boasts 30 brands, some of which you'll probably know: Sheraton, Westin, Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, W Hotels, Courtyard, SpringHill Suites, Four Points, Fairfield Inn & Suites, Residence Inn -- and, of course the Marriott brand itself.

Despite the pandemic, Marriott is performing relatively well -- and positioning itself for the future. It has responded to slumped traveling in part by offering rooms as temporary offices -- and has a pipeline of several hundred thousand rooms being built, to add to its more-than-470,000 recent total.

Long-term investors can look forward to a big pickup in demand as more people around the world get vaccinated and the pandemic eventually ends. Marriott is also likely to reinstate its dividend payout once business stabilizes more.

There are plenty of other compelling companies you might consider for your long-term portfolio. If any of these pique your interest, take a closer look. You might end up with some stocks you can keep until death do you part.

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Selena Maranjian owns shares of Johnson & Johnson, Marriott International, Procter & Gamble, Verizon Communications, and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends 3M, Johnson & Johnson, Marriott International, and Verizon Communications. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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