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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 ten year holding period. Suppose such a “buy-and-hold” investor had looked into buying shares of W.W. Grainger Inc. (NYSE: GWW) 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: 08/10/2011


End date: 08/09/2021
Start price/share: $126.11
End price/share: $437.73
Starting shares: 79.30
Ending shares: 95.41
Dividends reinvested/share: $47.71
Total return: 317.62%
Average annual return: 15.36%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $41,772.70

As shown above, the ten year investment result worked out exceptionally well, with an annualized rate of return of 15.36%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 10 years ago into $41,772.70 today (as of 08/09/2021). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 317.62% (something to think about: how might GWW shares perform over the next 10 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Always an important consideration with a dividend-paying company is: should we reinvest our dividends?Over the past 10 years, W.W. Grainger Inc. has paid $47.71/share in dividends. For the above analysis, we assume that the investor reinvests dividends into new shares of stock (for the above calculations, the reinvestment is performed using closing price on ex-div date for that dividend).

Based upon the most recent annualized dividend rate of 6.48/share, we calculate that GWW has a current yield of approximately 1.48%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 6.48 against the original $126.11/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 1.17%.

More investment wisdom to ponder:
“While it might seem that anyone can be a value investor, the essential characteristics of this type of investor-patience, discipline, and risk aversion-may well be genetically determined.” — Seth Klarman