Some people buy and sell stocks on a daily basis, or even rely on computers to make moves in a microsecond. That’s called day trading — or stock-based gambling, honestly. Investors in the Foolish school of thought prefer to buy great stocks at reasonable prices, and then hold on for the very long term. In the words of master investor Warren Buffett, the ideal holding period is “forever.”

That’s how we think about investing at the Motley Fool. Some of my holdings are very, very likely to stay in my portfolio forever. These businesses are built to last for decades and beyond.

Three of my favourite companies in that category are Cochlear Limited (ASX: COH), Sydney Airport Holdings Ltd (ASX: SYD) and Nearmap Ltd (ASX: NEA). Let me explain why I intend holding them virtually forever.

Cochlear

Providing an essential and extremely valuable service to thousands of people around the world to allow them to hear is why Cochlear is in business. The company also happens to be the market leader with a dominant market share – with some estimates of 60% or higher. Cochlear charges premium prices for its products, but if you want to be able to hear, and it requires having an implant inside your head, most people will opt for the highest quality product they can afford. Cochlear also has a huge market that is currently untapped. No wonder I’ve held this company in my SMSF ever since it was setup in 2008.

Sydney Airport Holdings

The owner of the Sydney Airport shopping mall – errr… I mean airport, has a monopoly business that will grow as more people fly into Sydney, whether they are tourists or immigrants. People complain about the charges for parking, but there’s virtually no other alternative, so Sydney Airport has a huge captive market in that sector – just one area of course. The other factor to remember is how valuable the company’s property could be. Sydney Airport also has first dibs on whether it wants to own and operate a second Sydney airport, which will always be a second-class airport compared to the current one given its distance from the city.

Nearmap Ltd (ASX: NEA)

The photomapping software provider has a profitable business in Australia, a growing business in the US and the potential to take its products and services into every country on earth. The US market could be 10 times the size of the Australian operations within a few years too. What’s great about Nearmap will be its ability to continue adding overlays and enhancements to its mapping product, which will see the company offer ever-more useful products to its customers. With very few competitors, this is a company with a great future.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King owns shares in Cochlear, Sydney Airport and Nearmap. You can follow Mike on Twitter @TMFKinga

The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.