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“When we own portions of outstanding businesses with outstanding managements, our favorite holding period is forever.”

— Warren Buffett

The Warren Buffett investment philosophy calls for a long-term investment horizon, where a two-decade holding period, or even longer, would fit right into the strategy. How would such a strategy have worked out for an investment into International Business Machines Corp (NYSE: IBM)? Today, we examine the outcome of a two-decade investment into the stock back in 1999.

Start date: 05/28/1999


End date: 05/24/2019
Start price/share: $116.00
End price/share: $132.28
Starting shares: 86.21
Ending shares: 125.99
Dividends reinvested/share: $53.10
Total return: 66.66%
Average annual return: 2.59%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $16,677.50

As shown above, the two-decade investment result worked out as follows, with an annualized rate of return of 2.59%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $16,677.50 today (as of 05/24/2019). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 66.66% (something to think about: how might IBM shares perform over the next 20 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that International Business Machines Corp paid investors a total of $53.10/share in dividends over the 20 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 6.48/share, we calculate that IBM has a current yield of approximately 4.90%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 6.48 against the original $116.00/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 4.22%.

One more piece of investment wisdom to leave you with:
“Smart investing doesn’t consist of buying good assets but of buying assets well. This is a very, very important distinction that very, very few people understand.” — Howard Marks