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“I buy on the assumption that they could close the market the next day and not reopen it for five years.”

— Warren Buffett

This inspiring quote from Warren Buffett teaches us the importance of considering our investment time horizon when approaching any given investment: Could we envision ourselves holding the stock we are considering for many years? Even a five year holding period potentially?

For “buy-and-hold” investors taking a long-term view, what’s important isn’t the short-term stock market fluctuations that will inevitably occur, but what happens over the long haul. Looking back 5 years to 2015, investors considering an investment into shares of Walmart Inc (NYSE: WMT) may have been pondering this very question and thinking about their potential investment result over a full five year time horizon. Here’s how that would have worked out.

Start date: 08/03/2015


End date: 07/31/2020
Start price/share: $72.18
End price/share: $129.40
Starting shares: 138.54
Ending shares: 156.44
Dividends reinvested/share: $10.30
Total return: 102.43%
Average annual return: 15.16%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $20,246.05

The above analysis shows the five year investment result worked out exceptionally well, with an annualized rate of return of 15.16%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 5 years ago into $20,246.05 today (as of 07/31/2020). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 102.43% (something to think about: how might WMT shares perform over the next 5 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that Walmart Inc paid investors a total of $10.30/share in dividends over the 5 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 2.16/share, we calculate that WMT has a current yield of approximately 1.67%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 2.16 against the original $72.18/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 2.31%.

Here’s one more great investment quote before you go:
“The intelligent investor is a realist who sells to optimists and buys from pessimists.” — Benjamin Graham