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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 wisdom of Warren Buffett reflects a value-based philosophy about investing that says investors are buying shares in a business, and encourages strategic thinking about investment time horizon. Before placing a buy order for a stock, a great question we can ask is whether we would still be comfortable making the investment if we couldn’t sell it for many years?

A “buy-and-hold” approach may call for a time horizon that spans a long period of time — maybe even lasting for a five year holding period. Suppose such a “buy-and-hold” investor had looked into buying shares of Progressive Corp. (NYSE: PGR) back in 2014. Let’s take a look at how such an investment would have worked out for that buy-and-hold investor:

Start date: 07/02/2014


End date: 07/01/2019
Start price/share: $25.21
End price/share: $81.75
Starting shares: 396.67
Ending shares: 453.02
Dividends reinvested/share: $5.99
Total return: 270.34%
Average annual return: 29.93%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $37,029.44

As we can see, the five year investment result worked out exceptionally well, with an annualized rate of return of 29.93%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 5 years ago into $37,029.44 today (as of 07/01/2019). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 270.34% (something to think about: how might PGR shares perform over the next 5 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that Progressive Corp. paid investors a total of $5.99/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 .4/share, we calculate that PGR has a current yield of approximately 0.49%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of .4 against the original $25.21/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 1.94%.

Here’s one more great investment quote before you go:
“Games are won by players who focus on the playing field, not by those whose eyes are glued to the scoreboard.” — Warren Buffett