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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 American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP)? Today, we examine the outcome of a five year investment into the stock back in 2015.

Start date: 04/29/2015


End date: 04/28/2020
Start price/share: $77.16
End price/share: $88.19
Starting shares: 129.60
Ending shares: 140.46
Dividends reinvested/share: $6.98
Total return: 23.87%
Average annual return: 4.37%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $12,385.95

As we can see, the five year investment result worked out as follows, with an annualized rate of return of 4.37%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 5 years ago into $12,385.95 today (as of 04/28/2020). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 23.87% (something to think about: how might AXP shares perform over the next 5 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that American Express Co. paid investors a total of $6.98/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 1.72/share, we calculate that AXP has a current yield of approximately 1.95%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 1.72 against the original $77.16/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 2.53%.

Another great investment quote to think about:
“Every once in a while, the market does something so stupid it takes your breath away.” — Jim Cramer