IBM: A Forever Stock

06/18/2015 8:00 am EST

Focus: STOCKS

Marshall Hargrave

Contributing Editor, Wyatt Investment Research

Many of Warren Buffett's stocks are indicative of forever stocks. These are stocks that you can own forever-the ultimate 'set it and forget it' strategy-suggests Marshall Hargrave, editor of Daily Profit.

It's a strategy that allows you to handily beat the market over the long-term-with little to no work-once you do your due diligence.

One obvious feature is wide and defensive moats. As far as International Business Machines (IBM) goes, you don't become a $170 billion market cap company on a whim. This 104-year-old corporation has built up a strong moat over the years.

IBM is a leader in the computer services and software businesses. It has the ability to combine these two offerings to cater to the world's top companies. It's really carved out a niche in the telecom and financial services sectors, but it's also getting more involved in fast-growing areas like the Internet of Things.

IBM operates across the globe in over 150 countries and is the global revenue leader in information technology services. And when it comes to protecting its competitive advantages, IBM has a lot of patents. It's received the most patents in the US each year for the last 22 years.

Another feature of a forever stock? Dividends. Income-producing stocks can't be overlooked. The return of the S&P 500 index over the last decade has been 74%. When you include dividends, the S&P 500's return is 115%. Quite a difference.

And dividend-wise, IBM is a machine. It has upped its dividend for 15 years in a row. Its 3.1% yield is over 33% higher than the average S&P 500 dividend yield. In 2014, IBM upped its dividend by 16%, and this year, it upped its dividend by 18% to $1.30 a share.

Last but not least, another important component of a forever stock is buybacks, which is one of the most effective ways for a company to boost the value of its shares.

IBM is an undisputed leader when it comes to buybacks. Over the last ten years, the tech giant has reduced its shares outstanding by close to 40%.

When you look at some of the other major IT and software players, none are as cheap as IBM. Shares of IBM trade at a forward price-earnings multiple of 10. Meanwhile, its top competitors trade at a P/E of nearly 20.

The bottom line is that IBM is a great stock for the long-term. It shares many of the key traits that could make this a stock to buy today and hold forever.

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