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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 Warren Buffett investment philosophy calls for a long-term investment horizon, where a five year holding period, or even longer, would fit right into the strategy. How would such a strategy have worked out for an investment into Alliance Data Systems Corp. (NYSE: ADS)? Today, we examine the outcome of a five year investment into the stock back in 2014.

Start date: 12/15/2014


End date: 12/12/2019
Start price/share: $282.49
End price/share: $108.94
Starting shares: 35.40
Ending shares: 36.88
Dividends reinvested/share: $7.40
Total return: -59.82%
Average annual return: -16.69%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $4,017.17

As we can see, the five year investment result worked out poorly, with an annualized rate of return of -16.69%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 5 years ago into $4,017.17 today (as of 12/12/2019). On a total return basis, that’s a result of -59.82% (something to think about: how might ADS shares perform over the next 5 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that Alliance Data Systems Corp. paid investors a total of $7.40/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 2.52/share, we calculate that ADS has a current yield of approximately 2.31%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 2.52 against the original $282.49/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 0.82%.

Another great investment quote to think about:
“Go for a business that any idiot can run – because sooner or later, any idiot probably is going to run it.” — Peter Lynch