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

— Warren Buffett

Investors can learn a lot from Warren Buffett, whose above quote teaches the importance of thinking about investment time horizon, and asking ourselves before buying any given stock: can we envision holding onto it for years — even a twenty year holding period possibly?

Suppose a “buy-and-hold” investor was considering an investment into ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) back in 1999: back then, such an investor may have been pondering this very same question. Had they answered “yes” to a full twenty year investment time horizon and then actually held for these past 20 years, here’s how that investment would have turned out.

Start date: 06/24/1999


End date: 06/21/2019
Start price/share: $17.07
End price/share: $60.33
Starting shares: 585.82
Ending shares: 1,076.83
Dividends reinvested/share: $27.74
Total return: 549.65%
Average annual return: 9.81%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $65,022.03

The above analysis shows the twenty year investment result worked out well, with an annualized rate of return of 9.81%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $65,022.03 today (as of 06/21/2019). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 549.65% (something to think about: how might COP shares perform over the next 20 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that ConocoPhillips paid investors a total of $27.74/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 1.22/share, we calculate that COP has a current yield of approximately 2.02%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 1.22 against the original $17.07/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 11.83%.

One more investment quote to leave you with:
“You don’t need to be a rocket scientist. Investing is not a game where the guy with the 160 IQ beats the guy with 130 IQ.” — Warren Buffett