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

— Warren Buffett

This inspiring quote from Warren Buffett teaches us the importance of considering our investment time horizon when approaching any given investment: Could we envision ourselves holding the stock we are considering for many years? Even a twenty year holding period potentially?

For “buy-and-hold” investors taking a long-term view, what’s important isn’t the short-term stock market fluctuations that will inevitably occur, but what happens over the long haul. Looking back 20 years to 1999, investors considering an investment into shares of Mid-America Apartment Communities Inc (NYSE: MAA) may have been pondering this very question and thinking about their potential investment result over a full twenty year time horizon. Here’s how that would have worked out.

Start date: 12/20/1999


End date: 12/18/2019
Start price/share: $21.81
End price/share: $128.87
Starting shares: 458.45
Ending shares: 1,376.34
Dividends reinvested/share: $54.43
Total return: 1,673.68%
Average annual return: 15.46%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $177,477.87

As shown above, the twenty year investment result worked out exceptionally well, with an annualized rate of return of 15.46%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $177,477.87 today (as of 12/18/2019). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 1,673.68% (something to think about: how might MAA shares perform over the next 20 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that Mid-America Apartment Communities Inc paid investors a total of $54.43/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 4/share, we calculate that MAA has a current yield of approximately 3.10%. 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 $21.81/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 14.21%.

One more piece of investment wisdom to leave you with:
“The older I get, the more I see a straight path where I want to go. If you’re going to hunt elephants, don’t get off the trail for a rabbit.” — T. Boone Pickens