A few years ago, StreetAuthority sent a report to readers of my Top 10 Stocks advisory covering the 10 Best Stocks to Hold Forever.

It quickly became 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.

But don’t just take my word for it — the numbers speak for themselves.

Here’s how the 10 “Forever” stocks have done since first being released in mid-July 2011:

– They’ve returned 36.7% on average, compared with a 28% gain in the S&P 500.

– Our biggest winner is up 81%, with three others posting gains above 50%.

– Six have announced dividend increases.

I’m not telling you this to brag about our success. 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 forthright by telling you I simply can’t reveal the 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 my 10 “Forever” stocks don’t have much in common. They don’t target a specific industry, they vary in size, and they each have their own unique business models.

But dig deeper and you’ll find certain qualities that are synonymous with most of the “Forever” ideas.

First and foremost, these are companies that dominate their markets.

Chasing high-flying tech startups might be profitable during a bull market, but those stocks are often the first to go when the market begins to heads south.

Instead, I prefer to invest in an established business that has PROVED it can make itself, and its investors, a lot of money.

For example, take one of the “Forever” stocks, Philip Morris (NYSE: PM).

Philip Morris dominates the cigarette industry thanks to its ownership of seven of the world’s top 15 brands, including Marlboro, the No. 1 cigarette brand worldwide. It’s not a complex business. And you don’t need to be a hedge-fund manager to see why owning Philip Morris is likely to make you money.

Its dominant position in its market has led to huge gains for investors. And those gains all start with company profits.

Philip Morris’ net profit margin stands at about 28%. That means the company turns nearly a third of its revenue into pure profit. Most companies don’t even come close to this. The average net profit margin for all members of the S&P 500 is 13.5%.

When you invest in world dominators like this, good things tend to happen.

But it’s not enough for a company to just dominate its market to warrant it as a “Forever” stock. I also like to see companies reward investors by buying back stock and paying dividends.

Since being spun off from Altria (NYSE: MO) back in 2008, Philip Morris has bought back $30 billion worth of shares and raised its dividend 84%. The stock is now paying nearly double the average dividend yield paid by the overall market.

Over time, these shareholder-friendly moves have led to exceptional market-beating returns.

Take a look below. In the past five years, Philip Morris has returned 120%. Meanwhile, the overall market has barely recovered from the recession.

It’s simple. Investing in dominant firms like Philip Morris is likely to pay off handsomely. The stock has gained nearly 52% since it was pegged one of the 10 Best Stocks to Hold Forever.

Action to Take –> 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 dominant, 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.

[Note: You can learn more about the rest of my "10 Best Stocks to Hold Forever" -- including several names and ticker symbols -- by viewing our latest research here.]

–Elliott GueSource: StreetAuthority

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