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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 2016, investors considering an investment into shares of Western Union Co (NYSE: WU) 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: 01/13/2016


End date: 01/12/2021
Start price/share: $16.59
End price/share: $22.41
Starting shares: 602.77
Ending shares: 725.04
Dividends reinvested/share: $3.80
Total return: 62.48%
Average annual return: 10.19%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $16,248.99

As shown above, the five year investment result worked out quite well, with an annualized rate of return of 10.19%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 5 years ago into $16,248.99 today (as of 01/12/2021). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 62.48% (something to think about: how might WU shares perform over the next 5 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that Western Union Co paid investors a total of $3.80/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 .9/share, we calculate that WU has a current yield of approximately 4.02%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of .9 against the original $16.59/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 24.23%.

One more piece of investment wisdom to leave you with:
“While it might seem that anyone can be a value investor, the essential characteristics of this type of investor-patience, discipline, and risk aversion-may well be genetically determined.” — Seth Klarman