Photo credit:

“Only buy something that you’d be perfectly happy to hold if the market shut down for 10 years.”

— Warren Buffett

One of the most important things investors can learn from Warren Buffett, is about how they approach their time horizon for an investment into a stock under consideration. Because immediately after buying shares of a given stock, investors will then be able to check on the day-to-day (and even minute-by-minute) market value. Some days the stock market will be up, other days down. These daily fluctuations can often distract from the long-term view. Today, we look at the result of a decade-long holding period for an investor who was considering American Tower Corp (NYSE: AMT) back in 2011, bought the stock, ignored the market’s ups and downs, and simply held through to today.

Start date: 05/13/2011


End date: 05/12/2021
Start price/share: $52.94
End price/share: $241.96
Starting shares: 188.89
Ending shares: 224.13
Dividends reinvested/share: $23.05
Total return: 442.32%
Average annual return: 18.41%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $54,235.79

The above analysis shows the decade-long investment result worked out exceptionally well, with an annualized rate of return of 18.41%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 10 years ago into $54,235.79 today (as of 05/12/2021). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 442.32% (something to think about: how might AMT shares perform over the next 10 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that American Tower Corp paid investors a total of $23.05/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 4.96/share, we calculate that AMT has a current yield of approximately 2.05%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 4.96 against the original $52.94/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 3.87%.

One more piece of investment wisdom to leave you with:
“Cash combined with courage in a time of crisis is priceless.” — Warren Buffett