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“Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”

— 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 twenty year holding period. Suppose such a “buy-and-hold” investor had looked into buying shares of Loews Corp. (NYSE: L) back in 2000. Let’s take a look at how such an investment would have worked out for that buy-and-hold investor:

Start date: 05/19/2000


End date: 05/18/2020
Start price/share: $10.05
End price/share: $31.65
Starting shares: 995.02
Ending shares: 1,154.11
Dividends reinvested/share: $4.65
Total return: 265.28%
Average annual return: 6.69%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $36,541.17

The above analysis shows the twenty year investment result worked out well, with an annualized rate of return of 6.69%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $36,541.17 today (as of 05/18/2020). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 265.28% (something to think about: how might L shares perform over the next 20 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that Loews Corp. paid investors a total of $4.65/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 .25/share, we calculate that L has a current yield of approximately 0.79%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of .25 against the original $10.05/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 7.86%.

One more piece of investment wisdom to leave you with:
“Ensure management’s interests are aligned with shareholders.” — Sam Zell