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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

The above quote from Warren Buffett is timeless, and brings into focus the choice about time horizon that any investor should think about before buying a stock they are considering. Behind every stock is an actual business; what will that business look like over a decade-long period?

Today, let’s look backwards in time to 2011, and take a look at what happened to investors who asked that very question about Costco Wholesale Corp (NASD: COST), by taking a look at the investment outcome over a decade-long holding period.

Start date: 03/03/2011


End date: 03/02/2021
Start price/share: $72.49
End price/share: $328.46
Starting shares: 137.95
Ending shares: 181.37
Dividends reinvested/share: $46.80
Total return: 495.72%
Average annual return: 19.53%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $59,592.79

As shown above, the decade-long investment result worked out exceptionally well, with an annualized rate of return of 19.53%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 10 years ago into $59,592.79 today (as of 03/02/2021). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 495.72% (something to think about: how might COST shares perform over the next 10 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that Costco Wholesale Corp paid investors a total of $46.80/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 2.8/share, we calculate that COST has a current yield of approximately 0.85%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 2.8 against the original $72.49/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 1.17%.

One more investment quote to leave you with:
“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” — George Santayana