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“Only buy something that you’d be perfectly happy to hold if the market shut down for 10 years.”

— 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 decade-long holding period. Suppose such a “buy-and-hold” investor had looked into buying shares of Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) back in 2010. Let’s take a look at how such an investment would have worked out for that buy-and-hold investor:

Start date: 06/03/2010


End date: 06/02/2020
Start price/share: $48.23
End price/share: $404.90
Starting shares: 207.34
Ending shares: 224.62
Dividends reinvested/share: $12.70
Total return: 809.48%
Average annual return: 24.69%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $90,958.09

As shown above, the decade-long investment result worked out exceptionally well, with an annualized rate of return of 24.69%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 10 years ago into $90,958.09 today (as of 06/02/2020). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 809.48% (something to think about: how might HUM shares perform over the next 10 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that Humana Inc. paid investors a total of $12.70/share in dividends over the 10 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 2.5/share, we calculate that HUM has a current yield of approximately 0.62%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 2.5 against the original $48.23/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 1.29%.

One more investment quote to leave you with:
“Finding the best person or the best organization to invest your money is one of the most important financial decisions you’ll ever make.” — Bill Gross