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“I buy on the assumption that they could close the market the next day and not reopen it for five years.”

— Warren Buffett

This inspiring quote from Warren Buffett teaches us the importance of considering our investment time horizon when approaching any given investment: Could we envision ourselves holding the stock we are considering for many years? Even a five year holding period potentially?

For “buy-and-hold” investors taking a long-term view, what’s important isn’t the short-term stock market fluctuations that will inevitably occur, but what happens over the long haul. Looking back 5 years to 2016, investors considering an investment into shares of Comerica, Inc. (NYSE: CMA) may have been pondering this very question and thinking about their potential investment result over a full five year time horizon. Here’s how that would have worked out.

Start date: 07/11/2016


End date: 07/08/2021
Start price/share: $41.61
End price/share: $66.49
Starting shares: 240.33
Ending shares: 283.95
Dividends reinvested/share: $10.15
Total return: 88.80%
Average annual return: 13.57%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $18,880.58

As we can see, the five year investment result worked out quite well, with an annualized rate of return of 13.57%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 5 years ago into $18,880.58 today (as of 07/08/2021). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 88.80% (something to think about: how might CMA shares perform over the next 5 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that Comerica, Inc. paid investors a total of $10.15/share in dividends over the 5 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 2.72/share, we calculate that CMA has a current yield of approximately 4.09%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 2.72 against the original $41.61/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 9.83%.

Another great investment quote to think about:
“You can’t be a good value investor without being an independent thinker; you’re seeing valuations that the market is not appreciating. But it’s critical that you understand why the market isn’t seeing the value you do.” — Joel Greenblatt