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

— Warren Buffett

The Warren Buffett investment philosophy calls for a long-term investment horizon, where a two-decade holding period, or even longer, would fit right into the strategy. How would such a strategy have worked out for an investment into Southwest Airlines Co (NYSE: LUV)? Today, we examine the outcome of a two-decade investment into the stock back in 2000.

Start date: 04/27/2000


End date: 04/24/2020
Start price/share: $14.00
End price/share: $29.33
Starting shares: 714.29
Ending shares: 781.57
Dividends reinvested/share: $3.23
Total return: 129.23%
Average annual return: 4.23%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $22,906.22

The above analysis shows the two-decade investment result worked out as follows, with an annualized rate of return of 4.23%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $22,906.22 today (as of 04/24/2020). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 129.23% (something to think about: how might LUV shares perform over the next 20 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that Southwest Airlines Co paid investors a total of $3.23/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 .72/share, we calculate that LUV has a current yield of approximately 2.45%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of .72 against the original $14.00/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 17.50%.

Here’s one more great investment quote before you go:
“We ignore outlooks and forecasts… we’re lousy at it and we admit it … everyone else is lousy too, but most people won’t admit it.” — Martin Whitman