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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 twenty year holding period, or even longer, would fit right into the strategy. How would such a strategy have worked out for an investment into Williams Cos Inc (NYSE: WMB)? Today, we examine the outcome of a twenty year investment into the stock back in 2001.

Start date: 08/06/2001


End date: 08/03/2021
Start price/share: $26.71
End price/share: $25.12
Starting shares: 374.39
Ending shares: 789.08
Dividends reinvested/share: $18.67
Total return: 98.22%
Average annual return: 3.48%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $19,824.85

As we can see, the twenty year investment result worked out as follows, with an annualized rate of return of 3.48%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $19,824.85 today (as of 08/03/2021). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 98.22% (something to think about: how might WMB shares perform over the next 20 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that Williams Cos Inc paid investors a total of $18.67/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 1.64/share, we calculate that WMB has a current yield of approximately 6.53%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 1.64 against the original $26.71/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 24.45%.

More investment wisdom to ponder:
“Experience taught me a few things. One is to listen to your gut, no matter how good something sounds on paper. The second is that you’re generally better off sticking with what you know. And the third is that sometimes your best investments are the ones you don’t make.” — Donald Trump