There are two things you really pay attention to when looking for an attractive long-term business: the earnings quality and the growth of those earnings. If you find a corporation that is attractive on both those two counts, plus valuation, you’ve really hit the jackpot in your search for a life-long holding.
Depending on what you’re trying to do in life–preserve wealth or create wealth–the way you prioritize those first two variables will be different. If your goal is to take some capital and make a little something with it but you have a strong loss aversion tendency with that pile of cash, then “earnings quality” is going to be your top consideration. Earnings quality is a jargon-y way of asking the question “How durable are these profits in times of economic distress?” If the current profits keep coming in at more or less the same rate during a recession, the business is said to have high earnings quality. If the profits are more sporadic, or turn into losses during a recession, then the business is said to have a low earnings quality.