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

— Warren Buffett

The Warren Buffett investment philosophy calls for a long-term investment horizon, where a two-decade holding period, or even longer, would fit right into the strategy. How would such a strategy have worked out for an investment into International Business Machines Corp (NYSE: IBM)? Today, we examine the outcome of a two-decade investment into the stock back in 2001.

Start date: 07/27/2001


End date: 07/26/2021
Start price/share: $104.70
End price/share: $142.77
Starting shares: 95.51
Ending shares: 152.64
Dividends reinvested/share: $65.10
Total return: 117.92%
Average annual return: 3.97%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $21,794.46

As we can see, the two-decade investment result worked out as follows, with an annualized rate of return of 3.97%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $21,794.46 today (as of 07/26/2021). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 117.92% (something to think about: how might IBM shares perform over the next 20 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that International Business Machines Corp paid investors a total of $65.10/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 6.56/share, we calculate that IBM has a current yield of approximately 4.59%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 6.56 against the original $104.70/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 4.38%.

One more investment quote to leave you with:
“It is remarkable how much long-term advantage people like us have gotten by trying to be consistently not stupid, instead of trying to be very intelligent.” — Charlie Munger