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3 shares to buy and hold forever

It has been proven in numerous studies that investing for the long-term outperforms short-term investing on average.

However, there’s no point investing in a share that may only be a good choice for the next year or two, it’s better to choose shares that can deliver good returns for the long-term.

With that in mind, here are three shares I’d be happy to hold potentially forever:

Cochlear Limited (ASX: COH)

Cochlear is one of the world’s largest hearing implant companies. It has been operating for over three decades and I’m sure it will be around for many decades to come. A certain percentage of the global population has hearing loss, this can be from birth or picked up at some stage of their life.

The company estimates that over 5% of the global population has hearing loss and one in three people aged over 65 are affected. It is a truly global business and is steadily growing its recurring revenue, over the past 15 years it has grown its service revenue to 25% of total revenue.

Cochlear is currently trading at 37x FY19’s estimated earnings.

Washington H. Soul Pattinson and Co. Ltd (ASX: SOL)

Soul Patts is one of the oldest companies trading on the ASX, having operated for over a century. It is an investment conglomerate that takes major stakes in other Australian businesses, it operates in a similar fashion to Berkshire Hathaway.

Some of its largest stakes are in businesses like TPG Telecom Ltd (ASX: TPM), Brickworks Limited (ASX: BKW) and Australian Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd (ASX: API).

It has increased its annual ordinary dividend every since 2000 and is currently trading at 19x FY19’s estimated earnings.

Ramsay Health Care Limited (ASX: RHC)

Ramsay is one of the world’s largest private hospital operators and is definitely Australia’s largest.

Hospital care is a long-term growth industry because the number of people aged over 65 is expected to increase by 75% over the next two decades. This should lead to more patients going through Ramsay’s doors.

Future growth is going to be generated through hospital developments and expansions. Management are also looking at expanding into another geographical area such is North America or China over the next couple of years.

Ramsay is currently trading at 22x FY18’s estimated earnings.

Foolish takeaway

I’m a fan of all three businesses but Cochlear is trading far too expensively to say it’s a buy today and I’d prefer to buy Soul Patts under $17. Therefore I’d pick Ramsay out of the three because of its share price fall over the last year.

Another stock I’d be very happy to buy and hold for a decade is this top stock which is already in my portfolio.

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Motley Fool contributor Tristan Harrison owns shares of Ramsay Health Care Limited and Washington H. Soul Pattinson and Company Limited. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of and has recommended TPG Telecom Limited and Washington H. Soul Pattinson and Company Limited. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Brickworks, Cochlear Ltd., and Ramsay Health Care Limited. 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 Scott Phillips.

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