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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 Digital Realty Trust Inc (NYSE: DLR) 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: 10/21/2015


End date: 10/20/2020
Start price/share: $71.58
End price/share: $155.60
Starting shares: 139.70
Ending shares: 167.08
Dividends reinvested/share: $19.81
Total return: 159.98%
Average annual return: 21.04%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $25,993.92

As shown above, the five year investment result worked out exceptionally well, with an annualized rate of return of 21.04%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 5 years ago into $25,993.92 today (as of 10/20/2020). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 159.98% (something to think about: how might DLR shares perform over the next 5 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that Digital Realty Trust Inc paid investors a total of $19.81/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 4.48/share, we calculate that DLR has a current yield of approximately 2.88%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 4.48 against the original $71.58/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 4.02%.

Another great investment quote to think about:
“Sometimes buying early on the way down looks like being wrong, but it isn’t.” — Seth Klarman