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“Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”

— 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 two-decade holding period possibly?

Suppose a “buy-and-hold” investor was considering an investment into Robert Half International Inc. (NYSE: RHI) back in 2000: back then, such an investor may have been pondering this very same question. Had they answered “yes” to a full two-decade investment time horizon and then actually held for these past 20 years, here’s how that investment would have turned out.

Start date: 11/16/2000


End date: 11/13/2020
Start price/share: $30.81
End price/share: $63.19
Starting shares: 324.54
Ending shares: 433.15
Dividends reinvested/share: $11.16
Total return: 173.71%
Average annual return: 5.16%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $27,360.96

As shown above, the two-decade investment result worked out well, with an annualized rate of return of 5.16%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $27,360.96 today (as of 11/13/2020). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 173.71% (something to think about: how might RHI shares perform over the next 20 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that Robert Half International Inc. paid investors a total of $11.16/share in dividends over the 20 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 1.36/share, we calculate that RHI has a current yield of approximately 2.15%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 1.36 against the original $30.81/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 6.98%.

Another great investment quote to think about:
“A market downturn doesn’t bother us. It is an opportunity to increase our ownership of great companies with great management at good prices.” — Warren Buffett