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

— Warren Buffett

The investment philosophy practiced by Warren Buffett calls for investors to take a long-term horizon when making an investment, such as a two-decade holding period (or even longer), and reconsider making the investment in the first place if unable to envision holding the stock for at least five years. Today, we look at how such a long-term strategy would have done for investors in Exxon Mobil Corp (NYSE: XOM) back in 2001, holding through to today.

Start date: 03/26/2001


End date: 03/25/2021
Start price/share: $39.13
End price/share: $56.18
Starting shares: 255.56
Ending shares: 469.99
Dividends reinvested/share: $41.50
Total return: 164.04%
Average annual return: 4.97%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $26,392.29

As we can see, the two-decade investment result worked out as follows, with an annualized rate of return of 4.97%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $26,392.29 today (as of 03/25/2021). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 164.04% (something to think about: how might XOM 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 Exxon Mobil Corp, investors have received $41.50/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 3.48/share, we calculate that XOM has a current yield of approximately 6.19%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 3.48 against the original $39.13/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 15.82%.

Here’s one more great investment quote before you go:
“If you’re prepared to invest in a company, then you ought to be able to explain why in simple language that a fifth grader could understand, and quickly enough so the fifth grader won’t get bored.” — Peter Lynch