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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 Western Digital Corp (NASD: WDC), by taking a look at the investment outcome over a decade-long holding period.

Start date: 06/09/2011


End date: 06/08/2021
Start price/share: $33.69
End price/share: $75.70
Starting shares: 296.82
Ending shares: 368.96
Dividends reinvested/share: $13.55
Total return: 179.31%
Average annual return: 10.81%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $27,927.61

As we can see, the decade-long investment result worked out quite well, with an annualized rate of return of 10.81%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 10 years ago into $27,927.61 today (as of 06/08/2021). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 179.31% (something to think about: how might WDC shares perform over the next 10 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that Western Digital Corp paid investors a total of $13.55/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/share, we calculate that WDC has a current yield of approximately 2.64%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 2 against the original $33.69/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 7.84%.

Here’s one more great investment quote before you go:
“There is nothing riskier than the widespread perception that there is no risk.” — Howard Marks