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“I buy on the assumption that they could close the market the next day and not reopen it for five years.”

— Warren Buffett

The investment philosophy practiced by Warren Buffett calls for investors to take a long-term horizon when making an investment, such as a five year holding period (or even longer), and reconsider making the investment in the first place if unable to envision holding the stock for at least five years. Today, we look at how such a long-term strategy would have done for investors in Willis Towers Watson Public Ltd Co (NASD: WLTW) back in 2014, holding through to today.

Start date: 03/28/2014


End date: 03/27/2019
Start price/share: $291.76
End price/share: $176.81
Starting shares: 34.27
Ending shares: 39.02
Dividends reinvested/share: $35.69
Total return: -31.01%
Average annual return: -7.15%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $6,900.96

As we can see, the five year investment result worked out poorly, with an annualized rate of return of -7.15%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 5 years ago into $6,900.96 today (as of 03/27/2019). On a total return basis, that’s a result of -31.01% (something to think about: how might WLTW shares perform over the next 5 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that Willis Towers Watson Public Ltd Co paid investors a total of $35.69/share in dividends over the 5 holding period, marking a second component of the total return beyond share price change alone. Much like watering a tree, reinvesting dividends can help an investment to grow over time — for the above calculations we assume dividend reinvestment (and for this exercise the closing price on ex-date is used for the reinvestment of a given dividend).

Based upon the most recent annualized dividend rate of 2.6/share, we calculate that WLTW has a current yield of approximately 1.47%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 2.6 against the original $291.76/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 0.50%.

Another great investment quote to think about:
“People who succeed in the stock market also accept periodic losses, setbacks, and unexpected occurrences. Calamitous drops do not scare them out of the game.” — Peter Lynch