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McDonald's Corp(MCD-N)

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Want to Get Richer? 2 Top Stocks to Buy Now and Hold Forever

Motley Fool - Wed Aug 2, 4:42AM CDT

There might not be many, but there are some stocks that can generate superb returns for their investors over the course of their entire lives. These wealth-creators tend to possess outstanding business models and powerful competitive advantages that combine to drive their profits steadily higher over time.

To help you in your hunt for these fortune-builders, here are two exceptional companies that are particularly attractive investments today.

1. Mastercard

Several megatrends fuel the growth of the global digital payments market. Rising internet penetration rates, the steady adoption of e-commerce, and the proliferation of smartphones and other mobile devices around the world are just some of the industry's expansion drivers. As a leading payment-processing network, Mastercard(NYSE: MA) stands to profit handsomely from these trends.

The credit and debit card giant is one of the most profitable businesses in the world, with operating margins that typically exceed 50%. Mastercard achieves these enviable profit margins by acting as an intermediary for buyers and sellers. Yet unlike banks and other card issuers, Mastercard does not take on the risks of bad loans and credit delinquencies. It simply facilitates the transfer of funds, earning a small fee in the process.

Mastercard enjoys tremendous scale advantages that make it unlikely to be displaced by its smaller rivals. With 3.2 billion credit and debit cards issued by its customers, and $2.3 trillion in gross dollar volume processed by its platform in the second quarter alone, the company is firmly entrenched in the global economy.

Yet rather than rest on its laurels, Mastercard strives to remain on the cutting edge of technological change. From contactless payments to artificial intelligence-powered fraud detection services, it has spearheaded many of the industry's advances. The company also supplements its internal development efforts by acquiring key technologies. Together, this enables Mastercard to continuously strengthen its competitive position and broaden its suite of services.

Despite decades of strong growth, Mastercard has a long runway for expansion still ahead. The trends that have fueled the payment leader's gains are likely to persist for many years. Moreover, much of the world remains unbanked, and many of Mastercard's international markets are still largely untapped. These are just some of the reasons why the digital payment titan is projected to grow its profits by more than 17% annually over the next half-decade.

2 McDonald's

Like Mastercard, McDonald's(NYSE: MCD) is a highly profitable enterprise. The fast-food colossus employs a franchise-based model that often produces operating margins of more than 30%. And its business is likely to become even more lucrative in the years ahead.

McDonald's has built a reputation for tasty food served quickly. Its drive-thrus and delivery options provide added convenience for busy diners. And its value-priced fare is particularly popular among cash-strapped consumers, especially during challenging economic times.

McDonald's possesses powerful yet often overlooked competitive advantages. With more than 40,000 locations in over 100 countries, it owns some of the most valuable real estate in the world. McDonald's restaurants are fixtures in their local communities, making them unlikely to be displaced by competitors. The company's massive store base also provides it with scale advantages. It is widely viewed as having the most effective and efficient supply chain in the restaurant industry.

Yet despite its immense geographic footprint, McDonald's isn't done growing. It intends to open roughly 1,500 net new stores in 2023 alone. The company is also investing aggressively in automation and other advanced technologies. Combined with recently announced cost cuts, these efforts should help to drive McDonald's earnings higher in the coming years.

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Joe Tenebruso has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Mastercard. The Motley Fool recommends the following options: long January 2025 $370 calls on Mastercard and short January 2025 $380 calls on Mastercard. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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