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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

One of the most important things investors can learn from Warren Buffett, is about how they approach their time horizon for an investment into a stock under consideration. Because immediately after buying shares of a given stock, investors will then be able to check on the day-to-day (and even minute-by-minute) market value. Some days the stock market will be up, other days down. These daily fluctuations can often distract from the long-term view. Today, we look at the result of a decade-long holding period for an investor who was considering American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP) back in 2010, bought the stock, ignored the market’s ups and downs, and simply held through to today.

Start date: 08/26/2010


End date: 08/25/2020
Start price/share: $39.73
End price/share: $99.05
Starting shares: 251.70
Ending shares: 292.11
Dividends reinvested/share: $11.45
Total return: 189.33%
Average annual return: 11.20%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $28,926.81

As shown above, the decade-long investment result worked out quite well, with an annualized rate of return of 11.20%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 10 years ago into $28,926.81 today (as of 08/25/2020). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 189.33% (something to think about: how might AXP shares perform over the next 10 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that American Express Co. paid investors a total of $11.45/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 1.72/share, we calculate that AXP has a current yield of approximately 1.74%. 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 $39.73/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 4.38%.

More investment wisdom to ponder:
“The right time for a company to finance its growth is not when it needs capital, but rather when the market is most receptive to providing capital.” — Michael Milken