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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 Waste Management, Inc. (NYSE: WM) 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: 09/28/2016


End date: 09/27/2021
Start price/share: $63.85
End price/share: $152.05
Starting shares: 156.62
Ending shares: 173.01
Dividends reinvested/share: $9.93
Total return: 163.07%
Average annual return: 21.34%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $26,303.89

The above analysis shows the five year investment result worked out exceptionally well, with an annualized rate of return of 21.34%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 5 years ago into $26,303.89 today (as of 09/27/2021). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 163.07% (something to think about: how might WM shares perform over the next 5 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that Waste Management, Inc. paid investors a total of $9.93/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 2.3/share, we calculate that WM has a current yield of approximately 1.51%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 2.3 against the original $63.85/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 2.36%.

Here’s one more great investment quote before you go:
“The individual investor should act consistently as an investor and not as a speculator. This means that he should be able to justify every purchase he makes and each price he pays by impersonal, objective reasoning that satisfies him that he is getting more than his money’s worth for his purchase.” — Benjamin Graham