There are three basic stages in the financial life cycle of an investor. These include the accumulation phase, the consolidation phase and the spending phase (retirement).
In your 40s, you're most likely to be in the accumulation stage, although your risk tolerance is likely to be lower than an investor who is in their 20s or 30s. As a result, a sensible investment strategy could be to focus on stocks that aren't too risky, yet that still have the potential to generate significant total returns over the 20-year period until your retirement.
With that in mind, here's a look at two FTSE 100 stocks that might fit the bill perfectly.
When it comes to picking safe, dependable stocks for the long term, it's hard to look past the consumer staples sector. No matter the state of the economy, people will still want products such as painkillers and cleaning essentials. Reckitt Benckiser (LSE: RB), with its world-class portfolio of brands including Nurofen, Dettol, and Cillit Bang could, therefore, be a top pick for investors in their 40s.
Health and hygiene products may not be the most exciting products in the world, but don't let that put you off. Reckitt Benckiser has been one of the FTSE 100's top performers this millenium, generating total returns for shareholders of over 900%, and that's despite the recent drop in the share price.
The stock has fallen more than 20% over the last nine months, on the back of concerns over slowing growth and the slightly controversial acquisition of infant-nutrient specialist Mead Johnson. Yet the group recently hiked its dividend by 7% which suggests management is confident about the future.
City analysts expect earnings to rise 6% this year to 336.4p per share, placing the stock on a forward P/E of 18.2. While that may not be the cheapest valuation in the FTSE 100, I believe it's a reasonable price to pay for a slice of this high-quality business. A prospective yield of 2.8% adds further weight to the investment case.
Smith & Nephew
Another FTSE 100 stock that I believe could be a top choice for those in their 40s is Smith & Nephew (LSE: SN). The £11bn market cap company is a joint replacement specialist, and could, therefore, be an excellent way to capitalise on one of the most powerful trends across the globe today - the world's ageing population.
As we get older, our joints break down. My grandfather was a classic example. After one too many rounds of golf, he needed both hip and knee replacements in his 70s. It's a common problem - in the US alone, almost 27m people suffer from wear-and-tear arthritis.
With operations all over the world, including significant emerging markets exposure, Smith & Nephew looks to be a top way to play this theme. Sales have been trending upwards slowly but steadily over the last few years, and City analysts expect a further 7% rise for FY2018, along with a 4% rise in earnings.
The stock currently trades on a forward-looking P/E of 18.7, which I believe is justified for a company with its growth prospects. With analysts pencilling in a dividend of 35 cents per share this year, the prospective yield is 1.9%. Given that the stock is now changing hands for around 10% below its 52-week high, I think now could be a good time to take a closer look.
Edward Sheldon has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.