Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett is quoted as saying that he invests in companies that he’d be happy to hold if the stock market closed and didn’t reopen again for five years. In other words, he’s a long-term investor who isn’t too interested in what a company’s share price does in the next handful of years, but is concerned with its prospects and how it performs in the long run.

With this in mind, here are five companies that appear to have strong long term prospects and could prove to be winning investments in five years’ time.

National Grid

National Grid (LSE: NG) continues to offer a potent mix of good value and strong income prospects. Indeed, the company currently trades on a dividend yield of 4.9%, which is above the FTSE 100’s yield of 3.5%. Over the next five years, a yield as high as that could really add up and, best of all, National Grid is aiming to increase dividends per share in line with inflation. So, even if inflation increases considerably from its current 1.6% level, it’s likely that your income from National Grid shares will keep up.

BHP Billiton

Although the next couple of years look set to be rather subdued for BHP Billiton (LSE: BLT), with the mining company forecast to post earnings growth of just 1% this year, the longer term looks much brighter. That’s because the global economy is slowly emerging from a challenging few years, with BHP Billiton well placed to benefit through it having a highly diversified offering (both geographically and in terms of the commodities it sells). Shares in the company also come with the potential for an upwards rerating, with them trading on a price to earnings (P/E) ratio of just 12.9, versus 13.6 for the FTSE 100.

AstraZeneca

It’s been a tough few years for AstraZeneca (LSE: AZN), with the company experiencing a fairly substantial patent cliff. However, its drug pipeline is now much healthier after the company has made a number of key acquisitions. As such, the current negative growth prospects for the next two years may not last much longer, since AstraZeneca seems to have the potential to grow its bottom line over the long run. As such, bid approaches from Pfizer have been forthcoming, and it would be of little surprise for more suitors to come forward as AstraZeneca’s pipeline and prospects continue to tick upwards.

J Sainsbury

Although it is in the midst of a supermarket price war, J Sainsbury (LSE: SBRY) could be in a far better state in five years’ time. That’s because the current fashion for discount retailers such as Aldi and Lidl is unlikely to last – especially if the UK economy maintains its upward momentum. Shoppers may begin to prioritise quality and service over just cheap products, which would play into the hands of J Sainsbury, with its wide range of own-brand goods providing the company with high margins. In the meantime, a yield of 5.4% is well-covered and dividends per share have the potential to move higher in future years.

Santander

Growth potential in banking is, quite simply, staggering. Indeed, in five years’ time banks such as Santander (LSE: BNC) could be in a much healthier and more profitable position than they are now. For example, Santander is forecast to increase earnings per share by 23% this year and by 21% next year; both of which are hugely impressive numbers. Furthermore, the bank yields 7.7% at current prices, which means that an impressive total return could be on offer over the next five years.

Looking for more stocks to hold for 5 years? Then look no further than our free and without obligation guide to 5 shares that could beat the FTSE 100.

These 5 companies offer a potent mix of dependable dividends, exciting growth prospects and attractive valuations. As such, they could make a positive impact on your portfolio and make 2014 and beyond even better years for your investments.

Click here to access your copy - it's completely free and comes without any further obligation.

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Peter Stephens owns shares of AstraZeneca, BHP Billiton, National Grid, and Sainsbury (J). The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.