At a time when investors are overloaded with information and opinions, it can be hard to sift through the noise and pin down which stocks are worth owning.
Thankfully, legendary investor Warren Buffett once provided a pretty simple rule to follow: “[T]he best business to own is one that over an extended period can employ large amounts of incremental capital at very high rates of return.”
Remember, at the most basic level, companies are designed to take capital from investors and earn a return on it.
With that in mind, here are three companies from Berkshire Hathaway’s portfolio with returns on invested capital in the double-digits — plus a few exotic assets that also have the potential for solid returns.
Kicking things off is Berkshire’s largest holding, which certainly fits Buffett’s description: Apple has achieved a five-year average return on invested capital of 27.6%.
Berkshire owned 907.6 million shares of the tech giant as of Sept. 30, worth over $161 billion at the current price. In fact, Apple now accounts for well over 40% of Berkshire’s publicly traded equities portfolio by market value.
One of the reasons behind that concentration is the sheer increase in the company’s stock price. Over the past five years, Apple shares have surged more than 500%.
Earlier this year, management revealed the company’s active installed base of hardware has surpassed 1.65 billion devices. But Apple does more than just making smartphones and computers; it has built an integrated ecosystem that encourages customers to get more and more invested.
As a result, business has been growing at a commendable pace. In the September quarter, revenue surged 29% year-over-year to $83.4 billion.
Next up, we have credit card giant Mastercard, which boasts a five-year average return on invested capital of 46.2%.
Buffett trimmed his position in the company by about 6% in Q3. Even so, with 4.29 million shares, Berkshire still has a sizable $1.48 billion stake.
Payments stocks had a rather choppy ride this year because new COVID-19 variants and outbreaks threatened to slow down international commerce — and in turn, transaction volume.
Business is picking up, though. In Q3, Mastercard’s gross dollar volume rose 20% year-over-year. Cross-border volume surged a more impressive 52%.
The company is also returning more cash to investors, which could be viewed as a sign of strength. On Nov. 30, Mastercard announced an $8 billion share repurchase program and boosted its quarterly dividend by 11%.
To be sure, Mastercard trades at over $340 per share at the moment. But you can always get a smaller piece of the company using a popular app that allows you to buy fractions of shares with as much money as you are willing to spend.
Procter & Gamble (PG)
Rounding out the list is consumer staples giant Procter & Gamble, with a solid five-year average return on invested capital of 13.5%.
Berkshire held 315,400 shares at the end of Q3, worth around $49.6 million at today’s price. While that’s not a big position by Berkshire standards, something does make P&G stand out: the ability to deliver rising cash returns to investors through thick and thin.
The company offers a portfolio of trusted brands like Bounty paper towels, Crest toothpaste, Gillette razor blades and Tide detergent. These are products households buy on a regular basis, regardless of what the economy is doing.
In April, P&G’s board of directors announced a 10% increase to the quarterly payout, marking the company’s 65th consecutive annual dividend hike.
Buffett makes a good case for stocks like Apple, Mastercard and P&G. However, if you’re reluctant to throw a lot of money at individual companies, you can always build a diversified portfolio automatically just by using your “spare change.”
Earn a passive income outside the stock market
At the end of the day, even the most solid blue-chip companies aren’t immune to stock market volatility and downturns.
But you don’t have to limit yourself to the stock market.
If you want to invest in something insulated from the swings of the S&P 500, take a look at some little-known alternative assets.
Traditionally, investing in exotic vehicles or multi-family apartments or even litigation finance have only been options for the ultrarich, like Buffett.
But with the help of new platforms, these kinds of opportunities are now available to retail investors, too. With a single investment, you can build a fixed-income portfolio spread across multiple asset classes.