Best Long-term Investments

The best investment is one which poses the least risk but yields high returns. Know the various options that are available for long-term investments, evaluate your risks, and plan your investments accordingly.
Investments can be broadly classified into short-term and long-term. Short-term investors look for quick gains, and try to benefit from the slightest fluctuation in the stock market. On the other hand, investors with a long-term outlook look for consistent yearly/bi-yearly returns. 'Returns' is undoubtedly an important criteria to choose an investment avenue. It determines the investment strategy, and for most investors, it is one of the most important criteria for selecting an asset.

When it comes to investments, a 'one shoe fits all' strategy doesn't always work. A lot of factors have to be taken into consideration for determining which investment strategy will be best suited for an individual. Before planning an investment, it is advisable to consider the following factors:
  1. Age
  2. Financial Goals
  3. Risk Appetite: High/Moderate/Low
  4. Investment Amount
Before we go ahead and look at the best long-term investment options, it is important to understand the ideal investment strategies across various age-groups.

Investors Within Age Group 20 - 30
Age Rule
If age = x years,
Invstmt. in equity: (100-x)%
Invstmt. in debt: x%
Individuals who have no prior experience in investments should look at low-risk sectors, such as municipal bonds and mutual funds. The priority should be to get decent annual returns, without taking too many risks. Investment in blue chip stocks can also be beneficial for long-term. A systematic, planned, and regular investment, using Systematic Investment Plan (SIP) offered by mutual fund groups is another option for investors within this age group. SIP enables investors to put in lesser amounts into a combination of stocks. Another sector that young investors can consider is investing in gold and silver (coins, bars, etc.), or gold exchange-traded funds (ETF). Staying invested for 10 - 15 years in these assets can offer decent returns.

Investors Within Age Group 31 - 45
Age Rule
If age = x years
Invstmt. in equity: (110-x)%
Invstmt. in debt: (x-10)%
When responsibilities and financial needs increase, the investment strategy should be modified in such a way that the financial obligations can be taken care of. A combination of mid cap and large cap stocks will serve the objectives of investors within this age group. Portfolios that follow a moderate allocation between equity and fixed-income securities are a safe bet. Corporate debt is another long-term investment suitable for investors in this group. Investors can also consider having gold and silver exchange-traded funds in their portfolio.

Investors Within Age Group 46 - 60
Age Rule
If age = x years
Invstmt. in equity : (100-x)%
Invstmt. in debt: x%
Most investors within this age group have an objective of earning good annual returns to save for retirement, or other liabilities. The focus should be on large cap stocks that ensure stable returns. Systematic Withdrawal Plans (SWP) offered by mutual fund companies are a good option for achieving regular income. These plans enable investors to contribute a large amount of capital at one time so that they can reap the benefits at regular intervals.

Mutual Funds

For the past twenty years, mutual funds have been perceived as one of those long-term investment options, which provide better returns than Federal and State bonds. However, you should remember that not all mutual funds perform consistently, and there is still a bit of risk involved. People with low-capital investment make the mistake of spreading themselves too thin in a mutual fund. This results into low returns as the gains are not significant. However it has to be said that overall, mutual funds are one of the preferred modes of investment as an investor feels secure that his money is handled by qualified professionals. Also, over the years, several mutual funds have been able to generate higher returns than the stock market.

Today, there are so many mutual funds in the market that an average investor is spoiled for choice, and picking a good mutual fund is a tedious task. We have picked up some mutual funds for you which were in the pick-list of many esteemed fund managers and financial gurus. You can check the previous record of these mutual funds in the table below along with the yearly returns they have offered.

Vanguard Energy Inv (VGENX)

Year*ValueChange %
200024.55-
200127.4210.46
200227.982.00
200323.43-19.42
200431.8226.37
200545.6743.50
200662.3736.60
200765.414.90
200875.8115.90
200941.83-44.80
201059.3741.90
201174.2625.10
201261.56-17.10

(*2000 has been considered as the benchmark. Values are as on the first trading day of March each year.)

% change in the period 2000 - 2012 = 150.8%
If you would have invested $10,000 in 2000, you would now have $25,070


BlackRock Latin America Inv A (MDLTX)

YearValueChange %
200016.58-
200113.22-20.30
200214.086.50
200310.24-27.30
200418.5080.70
200524.7333.70
200643.5676.10
200757.0330.90
200862.8010.10
200930.38-51.60
201064.13111.10
201173.3014.30
201264.4012.10

(*2000 has been set as the benchmark. Values are as on the first trading day of March each year.)

% change in the period 2000 - 2012 = 288.40%
If you would have invested $10,000 in 2000, you would now have $38,840


Fidelity Select Insurance (FSPCX)

YearValueChange %
200034.07-
200147.1238.30
200251.248.70
200341.94-18.10
200458.7440.10
200559.902.00
200668.3414.1
200769.671.90
200852.16-25.10
200926.95-48.30
201045.0167.00
201149.089.00
201248.83-0.50

(*2000 has been set as the benchmark. Values are as on the first trading day of March each year.)

% change in the period 2000 - 2012 = 43.30%
If you would have invested $10,000 in 2000, you would now have $14,330


Neuberger Berman Genesis Inv (NBGNX)

YearValueChange %
200016.46-
200118.5112.50
200221.9118.40
200319.00-13.3
200427.2243.30
200530.6712.70
200636.1818.00
200735.02-3.20
200832.96-5.90
200919.45-41.00
201028.7647.90
201136.3026.20
201235.31-2.70

(*2000 has been set as the benchmark. Values are as on the first trading day of March each year.)

% change in the period 2000 - 2012 = 114.50%
If you would have invested $10,000 in 2000, you would now have $21,450


Schlumberger (SLB)

YearValueChange %
200030.53-
200138.4025.80
200228.20-26.60
200318.85-33.20
200430.5962.30
200533.489.40
200663.7390.40
200763.49-0.40
200875.4018.80
200940.81-45.90
201063.4655.50
201188.9940.20
201270.14-21.20

(*2000 has been set as the benchmark. Values are as on the first trading day of January each year.)

% change in the period 2000 - 2012 = 129.70%
If you would have invested $10,000 in 2000, you would now have $22,974


Gold

Precious metals have always been one of the favorites among investors. Gold, particularly has been used as a hedge against inflation, and also as an asset to diversify the portfolio. When stocks market all over the world took a hit during the sub-prime crisis, gold continued to grow at the rate of 25%. The demand for gold is expected to grow in future as many emerging economies, such as China and India import gold heavily. Gold has the reputation of offering great returns every year and the trend is expected to continue in future as well. The table below will give you an idea about the gold prices over the years.

YearAverage PriceChange %
2000279.110.04
2001271.04-2.89
2002309.7314.27
2003363.3817.32
2004409.7212.75
2005444.748.55
2006603.4635.69
2007695.3915.23
2008871.9625.39
2009972.3525.90
20101,224.5328.30
20111,571.5222.10
20121,675.306.60

% change in the period 2000 - 2012 = 500.20%
If you would have invested $10,000 in 2000, you would now have $60,022


Indexes/Equity

With over 10,000 public companies in the US, it becomes difficult for a long-term investor to pick one stock and remain invested in it for a long time. It is because of this reason that most fund managers look at stocks in reputed indexes for a long-term approach. The stocks listed on Dow Jones Industrial Average, The Standard & Poor's 500 Index, and The Nasdaq Composite Index, are of some of the most trusted companies in the US. These stocks have a history of offering decent returns to investors who are in for a long-term. The Dow Jones Industrial Average contains 30 of the most popular blue chips stocks. Although the options are limited for investors, the 30 stocks are some of the best performers in the market. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index hosts 500 stocks, and covers all major companies operating in various fields. The index is considered a good option for investors who want to diversify their portfolio. The Nasdaq Composite Index has gained its prominence as one of the best indexes around the world, largely because of the phenomenal growth in the IT sector. The index trades in some of the biggest and reputable IT companies in the world. Take a look at the below mentioned tables to get information on the performance of these indexes.

S & P 500

YearValueChange %
20001,320.28-
20011,148.08-13.04
2002879.82-23.37
20031,111.9226.38
20041,211.928.99
20051,248.293.00
20061,418.3013.62
20071,468.363.53
2008903.25-38.49
20091,115.1023.45
20101,257.6412.78
20111,257.60Negligible
20121,426.1913.41

Dow Jones Industrial Average

YearValueChange %
200010,786.85-
200110,021.50-7.10
20028,341.63-16.76
200310,453.9225.32
200410,783.013.15
200510,717.50-0.61
200612,463.1516.29
200713,264.826.43
20088,776.39-33.84
2009 10,428.0518.82
201011,577.519.9
201112,217.565.53
201213,104.147.26

The Nasdaq Composite Index

YearValueChange %
20002,470.52-
20011,950.40-21.05
20021,335.51-31.53
20032,003.3750.01
20042,175.448.59
20052,205.321.37
20062,415.299.52
20072,652.289.81
20081,577.03-40.54
20092,269.1543.89
20102,652.8716.91
20112,605.15-1.80
20123,019.5115.91

(*For these three indexes, 2000 has been set as the benchmark. Values are as on the last trading day of December each year.)

Long-term Investment and Inflation
Inflation, the rise in prices, not only erodes purchasing power, but also erodes investments. In the long run, the investments must outperform the level of increase in prices. Therefore, it is essential to understand the inflation sensitivity of each investment. Ensure that the annual rate of return is higher than inflation rate. Equities and bonds are most affected by inflation. However, the right choice of local and global stocks can overcome the effect of local inflation. Investment in gold can act as a measure against inflation.

Tips for Long-term Investments
  • Research: Before taking any decisions, it is important that you conduct a thorough research of the market. When indulging in stocks, be sure to evaluate the performance of the company and its prospects as well as the sector performance.
  • Diversify: An ideal way to go about your investments is to diversify your portfolio and invest in a variety of financial instruments. Choose the investment option, or stocks investment in such a way that losses incurred by one can be compensated by the profits gained through the other.
  • Reinvest: For a long-term investment success, it is important that you reinvest your earnings from dividends and interests. Even if the earnings from reinvested capital are small, in the long run it can amount to substantial capital.
  • Invest Globally: According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), emerging markets grow faster than developed economies. Moreover, the world market has approximately 50,000 stocks whereas only 10% of them are listed on the US exchange. Being so, it is advisable to invest in international stocks and ETFs. Try to invest in emerging markets like China, India, Thailand and Columbia. To reduce the risk, ensure that you invest only 10% of your total investments in such international investment avenues.
  • Evaluate Tax Aspects: Ensure you understand how the investment will affect your tax payments, as per the tax laws of your state. Some investments might offer tax shelters whereas some might not.
  • Consider Transaction Costs: While evaluating any investment option, remember to consider the transaction costs involved as well.
The essence of successful long-term investment is to clearly define your goals, or objectives and correctly identify your financial needs. Once you have a clear idea about this, you can choose the right set of assets to invest in and increase your wealth.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for informative purposes only and should not be substituted for the advice of an appropriate professional. We do not, in any way guarantee, or promise a particular result/outcome. Reader discretion is advised.
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