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“Only buy something that you’d be perfectly happy to hold if the market shut down for 10 years.”

— Warren Buffett

The above quote from Warren Buffett is timeless, and brings into focus the choice about time horizon that any investor should think about before buying a stock they are considering. Behind every stock is an actual business; what will that business look like over a ten year period?

Today, let’s look backwards in time to 2009, and take a look at what happened to investors who asked that very question about American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP), by taking a look at the investment outcome over a ten year holding period.

Start date: 07/08/2009


End date: 07/05/2019
Start price/share: $22.72
End price/share: $125.40
Starting shares: 440.14
Ending shares: 511.35
Dividends reinvested/share: $10.45
Total return: 541.23%
Average annual return: 20.43%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $64,139.52

The above analysis shows the ten year investment result worked out exceptionally well, with an annualized rate of return of 20.43%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 10 years ago into $64,139.52 today (as of 07/05/2019). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 541.23% (something to think about: how might AXP shares perform over the next 10 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that American Express Co. paid investors a total of $10.45/share in dividends over the 10 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 1.56/share, we calculate that AXP has a current yield of approximately 1.24%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 1.56 against the original $22.72/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 5.46%.

Here’s one more great investment quote before you go:
“Every day that you’re not selling an asset in your portfolio, you’re choosing to buy it.” — Sam Zell