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

— Warren Buffett

The Warren Buffett investment philosophy calls for a long-term investment horizon, where a twenty year holding period, or even longer, would fit right into the strategy. How would such a strategy have worked out for an investment into Merck & Co Inc (NYSE: MRK)? Today, we examine the outcome of a twenty year investment into the stock back in 2001.

Start date: 01/26/2001


End date: 01/25/2021
Start price/share: $82.25
End price/share: $81.15
Starting shares: 121.58
Ending shares: 258.06
Dividends reinvested/share: $36.41
Total return: 109.42%
Average annual return: 3.76%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $20,930.27

The above analysis shows the twenty year investment result worked out as follows, with an annualized rate of return of 3.76%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $20,930.27 today (as of 01/25/2021). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 109.42% (something to think about: how might MRK shares perform over the next 20 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Many investors out there refuse to own any stock that lacks a dividend; in the case of Merck & Co Inc, investors have received $36.41/share in dividends these past 20 years examined in the exercise above. This means total return was driven not just by share price, but also by the dividends received (and what the investor did with those dividends). For this exercise, what we’ve done with the dividends is to assume they are reinvestted — i.e. used to purchase additional shares (the calculations use closing price on ex-date).

Based upon the most recent annualized dividend rate of 2.6/share, we calculate that MRK has a current yield of approximately 3.20%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 2.6 against the original $82.25/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 3.89%.

One more investment quote to leave you with:
“To achieve satisfactory investment results is easier than most people realize; to achieve superior results is harder than it looks.” — Benjamin Graham