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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

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 five year holding period possibly?

Suppose a “buy-and-hold” investor was considering an investment into W.W. Grainger Inc. (NYSE: GWW) back in 2015: back then, such an investor may have been pondering this very same question. Had they answered “yes” to a full five year investment time horizon and then actually held for these past 5 years, here’s how that investment would have turned out.

Start date: 08/14/2015


End date: 08/13/2020
Start price/share: $224.78
End price/share: $352.07
Starting shares: 44.49
Ending shares: 49.41
Dividends reinvested/share: $26.51
Total return: 73.96%
Average annual return: 11.70%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $17,393.92

As we can see, the five year investment result worked out quite well, with an annualized rate of return of 11.70%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 5 years ago into $17,393.92 today (as of 08/13/2020). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 73.96% (something to think about: how might GWW shares perform over the next 5 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that W.W. Grainger Inc. paid investors a total of $26.51/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 6.12/share, we calculate that GWW 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 6.12 against the original $224.78/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 0.77%.

Here’s one more great investment quote before you go:
“I rarely think the market is right. I believe non-dividend stocks aren’t much more than baseball cards. They are worth what you can convince someone to pay for it.” — Mark Cuban