A few months ago, I sent a report to readers of my Top 10 Stocks advisory covering my “10 Best Stocks to Hold Forever.

It’s quickly become one of the most popular pieces of research in StreetAuthority’s history.

Simply put, these are the 10 stocks that we think you can buy today and basically hold for the rest of your life.

When you own them, you don’t have to worry about events such as inflation or deflation, bear markets or recessions… flash-crashes or rising interest rates.

Don’t just take my word for it — the numbers speak for themselves…

Since I went public with my 10 “Forever” stocks in mid-July,

– They’ve returned 4.5% on average, compared with a 4.4% drop in the S&P 500.

– Our biggest winner is up 25.4%, and that’s during one of the rockiest periods in stock market history.

– Three are already showing double-digit returns.

– Three have announced dividend increases

I’m not telling you this to brag about my success as an analyst. My job is to help investors make money, so I want to show you why these stocks are outperforming… and what makes them worthy of their “Forever” status.

Before I go on though, let me be forthcoming by telling you I simply can’t reveal my full list of 10 “Forever” ideas here. This wouldn’t be fair to my Top 10 Stocks subscribers.

But if you want to find “Forever” stocks of your own, then you don’t necessarily need my list.

There are plenty of “Forever stocks” that didn’t make my list… and once you know what you’re looking for, finding them is actually much easier than you would think.

See, on the surface the 10 “Forever stocks” that made my list don’t have much in common. They don’t target a specific industry, they vary in size and they have their own unique business models.

But dig deeper, and you’ll find certain qualities that are synonymous with most of the “Forever” ideas. In particular, I think the best stocks to hold “Forever” do one or more of the following:

– Enjoy huge (and lasting) advantages over the competition

– Pay their investors each and every year by dishing out fat dividends

– Buy back massive amounts of their own stock

My research has shown that more often than not, these are the companies that make you money in the long run. Once you find them, the strategy is simple — buy them and hold them forever.

It makes sense. Strong companies that take care of their shareholders tend to better over time.

Take Philip Morris (NYSE: PM) for example. Philip Morris is one of my 10 “Forever” stocks. It’s one of the most dominant companies I’ve ever researched. This company sells its products in 180 countries and owns seven of the world’s top 15 global brands in its market.

But it’s also the most shareholder-friendly company I’ve ever seen. In the past three years, it has raised its dividend 39.1%… and by the end of last year, the company had repurchased more than 330 million shares (about 16% of all shares outstanding). That’s one reason why earnings per share (EPS) jumped 20% in 2010. So far in 2011, the company has spent $4.4 billion on share buybacks.

Buy Philip Morris now and you’ll also lock in a solid yield of 4.0%. Meanwhile, the company plans billions more in share repurchases this year and next, which should support the share price in just about any market.

Moreover, Philip Morris sells cigarettes, a product whose demand rarely fluctuates. I understand that cigarette companies are not for everyone. But there is little argument that sales tend to be steady.

This business stability has meant stability in the share price as well. Since I pegged Philip Morris for my report five months ago, shares are up close to 15%.

Risks to Consider: Of course, with investing there’s never a surefire thing. There’s no quality a company can possess that will guarantee its success. But by choosing strong, shareholder-friendly companies, you’re investing in proven companies with a commitment to making you wealthier… I can’t think of a better long-term investment.

Action to Take–> That said, if you want “Forever” stocks of your own, you don’t have to look that hard… Just find those best-in-class companies that are working around the clock to increase your shareholder value. At the end of the day, I’ve found that those are the companies that can make you money, regardless of what the market is doing. And if you’re interested in seeing my full Top-10 list of ideas, then click here to find out more.

– Paul TracySource: StreetAuthority

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