The Most Successful Companies Stay Relevant
Staying relevant is never easy for a company or its long-suffering investors.
Firms and their products can go in and out of style--and out of profitability, as well. Selecting those that will prosper year after year through good and bad times while rewarding their shareholders is an accomplishment.
Because times do change.
"When I was coming up in the business, when you made your first sale your company would reward you with a very expensive writing pen," recalls
The t-shirt has been a key product of
Investment experts can recommend the stock of many corporations in 2011 that have survived not only decades but sometimes more than a century and still remain viable. For example, media and entertainment businesses keep abreast of trends because of fierce competition and ever-changing tastes of the public, said Cripps.
When artist Walt Disney received a contract for a short film in 1923, it marked the beginning of what would become the
Here's another oldie with investment potential: The merger of
"GE has maintained its preeminent global business franchise, even though its businesses today are unbelievably different from what they were 100 or 50 years ago," said Cripps. "Another example is American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP), which looks far different from it did when it started yet it has worked to retain its strong brand recognition in the marketplace."
There's always an opposite side of the coin: Once-mighty
"What companies that remain relevant over the long haul have in common is outstanding management, sensitivity to customers and the ability to return value consistently through consistent dividend increases," believes
Even if a company is old, if it has the ability to identify new markets it remains current in its focus, Wright observed.
Procter and Gamble (NYSE: PG), the world's largest consumer product manufacturer, that has been around since 1837, might seem "as dull and boring as any company out there," but 65 percent of revenues now come from overseas, Wright noted. It is able to identify markets outside the U.S. that are growing and stand to benefit from the rising middle class consumers there. Its brands well-known in the U.S. for so long are increasingly becoming well-known globally, as well.
Smaller companies that don't meet expectations are in for trouble these days, but it isn't so critical for a firm with substantial finances and cash flow.
"When a higher-capitalized, defensive, dividend-paying company misses its earnings by a penny or so, it isn't the end of the world," said
Health and hygiene firm
"When you buy stock in Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO), Johnson and Johnson (JNJ),
Continuing to do what a company does best while regularly adding new products that build upon that tradition is what Apple Inc. (AAPL), incorporated in 1977, is doing right now, Wright pointed out.
"Apple is killing the competition," concluded Wright. "I had never owned an Apple product, but within five minutes of trying out an iPhone I was hooked because that phone is just so intuitive."
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