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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 ten year 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: 10/11/2010


End date: 10/08/2020
Start price/share: $37.94
End price/share: $106.06
Starting shares: 263.57
Ending shares: 305.68
Dividends reinvested/share: $11.70
Total return: 224.21%
Average annual return: 12.48%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $32,415.53

As shown above, the ten year investment result worked out quite well, with an annualized rate of return of 12.48%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 10 years ago into $32,415.53 today (as of 10/08/2020). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 224.21% (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 $11.70/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 1.72/share, we calculate that AXP has a current yield of approximately 1.62%. 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 $37.94/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 4.27%.

One more piece of investment wisdom to leave you with:
“Although it’s easy to forget sometimes, a share is not a lottery ticket… it’s part-ownership of a business.” — Peter Lynch