Which would you rather own: a stock that might generate huge profits in the short term, or one that you know will produce steady returns for years to come? Identifying the underlying trends in our economy, and then selecting those companies best positioned to capitalize on them over the long haul, is the best way to guarantee your profits.

Two trends that we know will continue for the foreseeable future are the aging of the U.S. population and increasing consumption of health care services, particularly pharmaceuticals. Drugstore chains that have established their brand names and occupy key locations in growing areas will be making serious money for years to come.

In the past, Walgreens Boots Alliance has had a strong position and and it remains a stock worth owning. Its rival CVS Health(CVS) - Get Report , had a rockier 2016, but many observers see it as poised for a rebound in the new year.

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Why did the share price decline in recent months? A lot of investors noticed when Prime Therapeutics, a major pharmacy benefits manager, opted to use Walgreens to meet its members' prescription needs.

But despite this setback, the CVS pharmacy operation continues to generate impressive revenue. Sales at stores that have been open for more than a year rose almost 4% in the most recent quarter, on a year-over-year basis.

And the pharmacy is only one aspect of the company's total business. Revenue from other merchandise, including over-the-counter medications, fast-food snacks and beverages and all the other things you can buy at a drugstore, rose even more quickly.

Over the last 12 months, CVS stores generated more than $9 billion in free cash flow. Of that amount, management used less than 20% to pay the stock's dividend, leaving plenty of money for expansion. By the way, the dividend yield is now over 2.5%.

CVS is still reaping benefits from its acquisition of Omnicare, the country's leading provider of pharmacy services in nursing homes -- another fast-growing market. Omnicare specialized in the drugs and related services used by older patients with chronic conditions. Its relations with leading health insurers were another factor supporting the deal.

The company also acquired the pharmacy locations inside Target stores for $1.9 billion, giving the drug chain a highly visible presence in one of the nation's biggest retail outlets.

As it has come up with new ways to create value for customers and providers, CVS management is now forecasting 10% annual growth in earnings per share. With the price-earnings ratio at only 16, several Wall Street analysts have been sufficiently persuaded by the company's case to change their outlook from "neutral" to "buy" on the stock.


2016 was one of the most unpredictable years on record, and 2017 could be a wild ride as well. Now more than ever, you need a system that will guarantee profits at least 85% of the time, something you can rely on so you can plan for the future. To find out more about that system, just click here!

Tom Scarlett is an independent contributor who at the time of publication owned none of the stocks mentioned.