Timeless investments: 3 ASX All Ords shares I'd buy to last a lifetime

Compounding returns over decades could be life-changing. But, we need companies that will last the test of time for it to work.

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Owning boring — but exceptional — companies that will still be ticking away in 30, 50, or even 100 years is arguably the simplest way to achieve financial freedom. Fortunately, there are a few ASX All Ords shares that I have come across during my travels that I believe could keep compounding for generations.

I firmly believe one of the main determinants of successful investing is a long holding period. You might wonder what gave me that idea. The investing arena is littered with examples, but two that come to mind are Warren Buffett and Terry Smith.

These billionaire investors have held great companies for years and decades, at times, to allow long-term compounding to work its magic. Buffett, the chair of US$784 billion conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway Inc (NYSE: BRK.A) (NYSE: BRK.B), has held Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) for 35 years and counting. Whereas Terry Smith, Fundsmith CEO and founder, has owned Stryker Corp (NYSE: SYK) since his funds' inception in 2010.

Buying shares in new, up-and-coming industries might be exciting. However, it can also be fraught with risk. A perfect illustration of this was the boom in buy now, pay later companies. How many of those that raced to market still exist today?

Here are three ASX All Ords shares I regard as timeless investments.

3 ASX All Ords shares that might never go out of fashion

Sonic Healthcare Ltd (ASX: SHL)

This international laboratory, pathology, and radiology services provider has been conducting business since 1934, which is already a good sign the company can stand the test of time.

If you have ever had a blood test taken at Sullivan Nicolaides, you will have come across Sonic Healthcare.

The consistent track record of growth from this cornerstone of the healthcare system is impeccable. In the last 19 years, Sonic has either maintained or grown its dividend per share. Since 2004, the dividend payment to shareholders has grown from 30 cents to $1 per share.

Patients often need either lab work or scans to be done for a diagnosis to be made. I would argue this medical process won't be disappearing any time soon.

Additionally, given the monumental amount of capital required to procure the equipment necessary to conduct these tests, I think Sonic Healthcare maintains a defendable moat.

Propel Funeral Partners Ltd (ASX: PFP)

The next ASX All Ords share I suspect will still be humming away decades from now is funeral operator Propel Funeral Partners.

Funerals have long played an integral role in society to help us mourn and celebrate the lives of those that have passed. Considering these practices began some 23,000 years ago, it seems unlikely they would disappear in the foreseeable future.

Propel's approach has been to acquire and consolidate small, often family-run, businesses. The assumption is there are scale benefits — higher profitability (in other words) — to operating as a single unified entity rather than hundreds of funeral homes running independently.

Many of Propel Funeral Partners' acquisitions are businesses that have been servicing their community for more than 100 years. This instils a high level of confidence, personally, that this ASX All Ords share is building into what could be a timeless investment.

Supply Network Ltd (ASX: SNL)

The final company, Supply Network, is one I think can be adaptable in a changing world.

Known by its Multispares brand, the company sells truck and bus parts across Australia and New Zealand. Over 37 years, Supply Network has become the largest and most diversified independent supplier of aftermarket replacement parts for trucks and buses.

In the last decade, revenue has increased by approximately three and a half times. At the same time, profits have amplified by a factor of 5.4 times. This is exemplary of a management team that knows how to scale well.

However, what appeals most to me is the core value proposition of the company — its network and service. Regardless of whether it's electric vehicles or autonomous vehicles — heck, even flying cars (maybe someday) — Supply Network could still be the leader in providing replacement parts. It won't necessarily be disrupted.

My view is while we still operate in the physical world, we will need physical parts moved around efficiently. Supply Networks', well… network, is its edge.

Motley Fool contributor Mitchell Lawler has positions in Propel Funeral Partners and Sonic Healthcare. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has positions in and has recommended Berkshire Hathaway and Supply Network. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has recommended the following options: long January 2024 $47.50 calls on Coca-Cola. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Berkshire Hathaway, Propel Funeral Partners, Sonic Healthcare, and Supply Network. 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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