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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

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 Norfolk Southern Corp (NYSE: NSC) back in 2011, bought the stock, ignored the market’s ups and downs, and simply held through to today.

Start date: 07/20/2011


End date: 07/19/2021
Start price/share: $75.09
End price/share: $253.82
Starting shares: 133.17
Ending shares: 168.32
Dividends reinvested/share: $27.19
Total return: 327.23%
Average annual return: 15.62%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $42,724.31

As we can see, the decade-long investment result worked out exceptionally well, with an annualized rate of return of 15.62%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 10 years ago into $42,724.31 today (as of 07/19/2021). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 327.23% (something to think about: how might NSC shares perform over the next 10 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that Norfolk Southern Corp paid investors a total of $27.19/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 3.96/share, we calculate that NSC has a current yield of approximately 1.56%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 3.96 against the original $75.09/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 2.08%.

Here’s one more great investment quote before you go:
“As time goes on, I get more and more convinced that the right method of investment is to put fairly large sums into enterprises which one thinks one knows something about and in the management of which one thoroughly believes.” — John Maynard Keynes