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The Motley Fool explains how to turn $10,000 into $1,000,000 by retirement

You don't need a fortune to start saving for retirement. If you start early and put money aside into quality investments, that can set you up for some significant long-term gains in the future, making for an easier retirement. Below, I'll show you how a $10,000 investment can turn in to $1 million by the time you retire, and I'll give examples of stocks that can help you achieve those types of gains.

How realistic is it to get to million?

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For a $10,000 investment to grow to $1 million, it would have to be a 100-bagger. That's not the type of return you would expect to achieve in a short time frame. You would likely need to remain invested for not just years but decades. It also depends on the type of return your investment generates. Here's a look at what your potential returns look like if you averaged gains between 11% and 15%, which is higher than the S&P 500's long-term average of 10%:

Even with above-average gains of 15% per year, it would still take more than 30 years for a $10,000 investment to grow to $1 million. Obviously, by investing more money you can accelerate these returns, but as long as you can find a good growth investment that can generate above-average gains, it's possible to get to $1 million, provided that you have many investing years left. 

Many good growth stocks to consider

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If you're investing $10,000, you may want to consider not just one but multiple growth stocks. Two examples of quality long-term investments are Johnson & Johnson (JNJ 0.62%) and Microsoft (MSFT -0.07%). These are both behemoths within their respective industries that can make for safe long-term investments.

J&J isn't a fast-growing company, but it is an incredibly profitable one: The healthcare giant normally nets a profit margin of around 20% and its free cash flow has been north of $17 billion in each of the past four years. Now that the company has spun off its slow-growing consumer health business, it can focus more on growth in its pharmaceutical and medical device segments. Last year, it acquired heart pump maker Abiomed for $16.6 billion, which it said would help accelerate the growth of its medtech business.

Over the past 10 years, the stock has generated a total return (which includes dividends) of 135%. That averages out to a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.9%, which is slightly less than the S&P 500 average. But with the company focused more on growth now, there's potential for those returns to be higher in the future.

Investors may be more inclined to buy shares of tech giant Microsoft, which has a better track record of growth. Over the past 10 years, it has returned more than 1,000%, with a CAGR of over 27%. That may be a difficult pace to sustain in the long run, but with Microsoft investing in ChatGPT developer OpenAI and planning to be a big player in artificial intelligence, there could still be more room for the tech stock to rise in the years ahead. 

Its 33% profit margin is even higher than J&J's. And in just the trailing 12 months, its free cash flow has nearly topped $60 billion. Even if its pending acquisition of video game maker Activision Blizzard falls through, Microsoft has a strong business with excellent financials, which will give it plenty of resources to pursue other growth opportunities.

Investors should focus on quality investments with good growth prospects

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Whether it's J&J, Microsoft, or another growth stock, there are plenty of options out there for investors to consider. The key is to focus on investments with strong fundamentals and good prospects for future growth. That way, investors aren't taking on too much risk while at the same time they're still investing in growth-oriented businesses. And by remaining invested in those types of companies, investors have the potential to achieve life-changing returns by the time they retire.

David Jagielski has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Activision Blizzard and Microsoft. The Motley Fool recommends Johnson & Johnson. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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