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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

Investors can learn a lot from Warren Buffett, whose above quote teaches the importance of thinking about investment time horizon, and asking ourselves before buying any given stock: can we envision holding onto it for years — even a decade-long holding period possibly?

Suppose a “buy-and-hold” investor was considering an investment into Cerner Corp. (NASD: CERN) back in 2010: back then, such an investor may have been pondering this very same question. Had they answered “yes” to a full decade-long investment time horizon and then actually held for these past 10 years, here’s how that investment would have turned out.

Start date: 07/14/2010


End date: 07/13/2020
Start price/share: $19.71
End price/share: $69.45
Starting shares: 507.36
Ending shares: 514.01
Dividends reinvested/share: $0.90
Total return: 256.98%
Average annual return: 13.56%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $35,690.81

As shown above, the decade-long investment result worked out quite well, with an annualized rate of return of 13.56%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 10 years ago into $35,690.81 today (as of 07/13/2020). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 256.98% (something to think about: how might CERN shares perform over the next 10 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that Cerner Corp. paid investors a total of $0.90/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 .72/share, we calculate that CERN has a current yield of approximately 1.04%. 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 $19.71/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 5.28%.

More investment wisdom to ponder:
“Sometimes buying early on the way down looks like being wrong, but it isn’t.” — Seth Klarman