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“Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”

— 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 two-decade holding period possibly?

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

Start date: 07/08/1999


End date: 07/05/2019
Start price/share: $25.93
End price/share: $65.52
Starting shares: 385.65
Ending shares: 925.66
Dividends reinvested/share: $44.98
Total return: 506.49%
Average annual return: 9.43%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $60,665.59

As shown above, the two-decade investment result worked out well, with an annualized rate of return of 9.43%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $60,665.59 today (as of 07/05/2019). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 506.49% (something to think about: how might VNO shares perform over the next 20 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Many investors out there refuse to own any stock that lacks a dividend; in the case of Vornado Realty Trust, investors have received $44.98/share in dividends these past 20 years examined in the exercise above. This means total return was driven not just by share price, but also by the dividends received (and what the investor did with those dividends). For this exercise, what we’ve done with the dividends is to assume they are reinvestted — i.e. used to purchase additional shares (the calculations use closing price on ex-date).

Based upon the most recent annualized dividend rate of 2.64/share, we calculate that VNO has a current yield of approximately 4.03%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 2.64 against the original $25.93/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 15.54%.

Here’s one more great investment quote before you go:
“The four most dangerous words in investing are: ‘this time it’s different.'” — Sir John Templeton