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“When we own portions of outstanding businesses with outstanding managements, our favorite holding period is forever.”

— Warren Buffett

The wisdom of Warren Buffett reflects a value-based philosophy about investing that says investors are buying shares in a business, and encourages strategic thinking about investment time horizon. Before placing a buy order for a stock, a great question we can ask is whether we would still be comfortable making the investment if we couldn’t sell it for many years?

A “buy-and-hold” approach may call for a time horizon that spans a long period of time — maybe even lasting for a two-decade holding period. Suppose such a “buy-and-hold” investor had looked into buying shares of Iron Mountain Inc (NYSE: IRM) back in 2001. Let’s take a look at how such an investment would have worked out for that buy-and-hold investor:

Start date: 06/18/2001


End date: 06/16/2021
Start price/share: $11.26
End price/share: $45.36
Starting shares: 888.10
Ending shares: 1,859.76
Dividends reinvested/share: $23.99
Total return: 743.59%
Average annual return: 11.25%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $84,407.48

As we can see, the two-decade investment result worked out quite well, with an annualized rate of return of 11.25%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $84,407.48 today (as of 06/16/2021). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 743.59% (something to think about: how might IRM shares perform over the next 20 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that Iron Mountain Inc paid investors a total of $23.99/share in dividends over the 20 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 2.474/share, we calculate that IRM has a current yield of approximately 5.45%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 2.474 against the original $11.26/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 48.40%.

More investment wisdom to ponder:
“The policy of being too cautious is the greatest risk of all.” — Jawaharlal Nehru