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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 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 decade-long holding period. Suppose such a “buy-and-hold” investor had looked into buying shares of American Electric Power Co Inc (NASD: AEP) back in 2011. Let’s take a look at how such an investment would have worked out for that buy-and-hold investor:

Start date: 07/07/2011


End date: 07/06/2021
Start price/share: $38.52
End price/share: $85.24
Starting shares: 259.61
Ending shares: 378.85
Dividends reinvested/share: $23.16
Total return: 222.93%
Average annual return: 12.43%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $32,292.44

The above analysis shows the decade-long investment result worked out quite well, with an annualized rate of return of 12.43%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 10 years ago into $32,292.44 today (as of 07/06/2021). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 222.93% (something to think about: how might AEP shares perform over the next 10 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that American Electric Power Co Inc paid investors a total of $23.16/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 2.96/share, we calculate that AEP has a current yield of approximately 3.47%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 2.96 against the original $38.52/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 9.01%.

Another great investment quote to think about:
“When the public is most frightened, only the strong are left, and that’s when the market is in the best possible hands.” — Victor Niederhoffer