Wednesday, 4 July 2012

5 Stocks With Staying Power

By Motley Fool Staff July 3, 2012

Some press comments I read over the weekend suggested -- gasp! -- that readers ought to think about putting money in the stock market. Over the long term, ran the logic, the market looked set to outperform bank accounts, mattresses, gilts, and property.
Such sentiments aren't novel, of course. Just the other day, I pointed out three reasons to buy into the market today. But such a stance does pose an obvious question, especially for the novice investor.
Namely, which shares offer long-term staying power?
Go the distanceSo here, I offer up five stocks for the long haul: five decent businesses, with decent Warren Buffett-style "moats," decent histories of long-term dividend growth -- and very reasonable prices.
Better still, they're all large-cap companies, thereby offering robustness and resilience against the inevitable uncertainties that lie in the future. Three, in fact, are in the top 10 FTSE 100 stocks -- and all five of them make the top 20.
And I make no apology for another feature that they all share: a high exposure to consumer non-discretionary expenditure. With the consumer contributing about 65% to GDP, stocks reliant on captive consumer expenditure provide a good buffer of insurance against the business cycle.
But before diving into the financials, let's start with a quick "pen picture" of each company.
Five for the futureFirst up is GlaxoSmithKline (LSE: GSK.L  ) , which employs around 97,000 people in more than 100 countries. Every minute, apparently, more than 1,100 prescriptions are written for GlaxoSmithKline pharmaceutical products. Almost as attractive is its strong range of consumer-friendly brands: Ribena, Horlicks, Lucozade, Aquafresh, Sensodyne, and the Macleans range of toothpaste, mouthwash and toothbrushes.
Next comes Vodafone (LSE: VOD.L  ) , the world's second‑largest mobile telecommunications company measured by both subscribers and 2011 revenues, which has 390 million customers, employs more than 83,000 people, and operates in more than 30 countries across five continents.
Third comes British American Tobacco (LSE: BATS.L  ) , the world's second-largest quoted tobacco group by global market share, possessing 200 brands sold in around 180markets, and with 46 cigarette factories in 39 countries manufacturing the cigarettes chosen by one in eight of the world's 1 billion adult smokers.
Fourth, we have Unilever (LSE: ULVR.L  ) , which employs 167,000 people, sells its products in 180 countries, and has a clutch of best-selling brands as diverse as Flora, Dove, PG Tips, Marmite, Persil, Knorr, Ben & Jerry's and Colman's.
Lastly, consider 500,000-employee Tesco (LSE: TSCO.L  ) , which is the world's third-largest international retailer, with fully a third of its sales coming from overseas, and spread over 13 countries. Throw in innovative home shopping, finance, and telecommunications offerings, and Tesco is more than just another grocer.
Let's see the numbersThose are the five businesses. Each, clearly, is large and diversified, with a solid consumer-centric go-to-market proposition.
But how do the finances stack up? Let's take a look. The table gives the lowdown.
Share Price (Pence)
Market Cap (Pounds)
Forecasted P/E
Forecasted Yield
GlaxoSmithKline1,45873.7 billion11.95.1%
Vodafone17887.7 billion117.2%
British American Tobacco3,26563.8 billion15.54.2%
Unilever2,14860.6 billion16.43.7%
Tesco31325.1 billion8.94.9%
Now, it's fair to say that not all of these shares tick the usual "screamingly cheap" boxes. All but one is rated at above the FTSE 100's average price-to-earnings ratio, for instance -- although generally not hugely above it. That said, all but one offers yields that are above the FTSE 100's average.
But in any case, for the most part these aren't shares selected because adversity has temporarily driven down their prices: These are shares chosen to be solid picks over the long term.
In short, they're buy-and-forget shares that will deliver a decent total return stretching into the future. And on that basis, it's a matter of "price is what you pay, staying power is what you get."\

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