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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

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 decade-long holding period possibly?

Suppose a “buy-and-hold” investor was considering an investment into Principal Financial Group Inc (NASD: PFG) back in 2011: back then, such an investor may have been pondering this very same question. Had they answered “yes” to a full decade-long investment time horizon and then actually held for these past 10 years, here’s how that investment would have turned out.

Start date: 09/19/2011


End date: 09/16/2021
Start price/share: $24.53
End price/share: $65.74
Starting shares: 407.66
Ending shares: 583.48
Dividends reinvested/share: $17.04
Total return: 283.58%
Average annual return: 14.39%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $38,360.18

As shown above, the decade-long investment result worked out quite well, with an annualized rate of return of 14.39%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 10 years ago into $38,360.18 today (as of 09/16/2021). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 283.58% (something to think about: how might PFG shares perform over the next 10 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that Principal Financial Group Inc paid investors a total of $17.04/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 2.52/share, we calculate that PFG has a current yield of approximately 3.83%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 2.52 against the original $24.53/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 15.61%.

More investment wisdom to ponder:
“I think you have to learn that there’s a company behind every stock, and that there’s only one real reason why stocks go up. Companies go from doing poorly to doing well or small companies grow to large companies.” — Peter Lynch