Photo credit:

“Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”

— Warren Buffett

One of the most important things investors can learn from Warren Buffett, is about how they approach their time horizon for an investment into a stock under consideration. Because immediately after buying shares of a given stock, investors will then be able to check on the day-to-day (and even minute-by-minute) market value. Some days the stock market will be up, other days down. These daily fluctuations can often distract from the long-term view. Today, we look at the result of a two-decade holding period for an investor who was considering Wells Fargo & Co (NYSE: WFC) back in 2001, bought the stock, ignored the market’s ups and downs, and simply held through to today.

Start date: 10/29/2001


End date: 10/28/2021
Start price/share: $20.00
End price/share: $51.36
Starting shares: 500.00
Ending shares: 880.76
Dividends reinvested/share: $21.18
Total return: 352.36%
Average annual return: 7.84%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $45,275.89

As we can see, the two-decade investment result worked out well, with an annualized rate of return of 7.84%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $45,275.89 today (as of 10/28/2021). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 352.36% (something to think about: how might WFC shares perform over the next 20 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that Wells Fargo & Co paid investors a total of $21.18/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 .8/share, we calculate that WFC has a current yield of approximately 1.56%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of .8 against the original $20.00/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 7.80%.

More investment wisdom to ponder:
“Know what you own and why you own it.” — Peter Lynch