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

— Warren Buffett

Investors can learn a lot from Warren Buffett, whose above quote teaches the importance of thinking about investment time horizon, and asking ourselves before buying any given stock: can we envision holding onto it for years — even a two-decade holding period possibly?

Suppose a “buy-and-hold” investor was considering an investment into Rollins, Inc. (NYSE: ROL) back in 2001: back then, such an investor may have been pondering this very same question. Had they answered “yes” to a full two-decade investment time horizon and then actually held for these past 20 years, here’s how that investment would have turned out.

Start date: 07/23/2001


End date: 07/22/2021
Start price/share: $1.18
End price/share: $37.64
Starting shares: 8,474.58
Ending shares: 11,078.67
Dividends reinvested/share: $2.56
Total return: 4,070.01%
Average annual return: 20.49%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $416,780.34

As shown above, the two-decade investment result worked out exceptionally well, with an annualized rate of return of 20.49%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $416,780.34 today (as of 07/22/2021). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 4,070.01% (something to think about: how might ROL shares perform over the next 20 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that Rollins, Inc. paid investors a total of $2.56/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 .32/share, we calculate that ROL has a current yield of approximately 0.85%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of .32 against the original $1.18/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 72.03%.

One more investment quote to leave you with:
“The stock market is the story of cycles and of the human behavior that is responsible for overreactions in both directions.” — Seth Klarman