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“When we own portions of outstanding businesses with outstanding managements, our favorite holding period is forever.”

— 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 two-decade holding period. Suppose such a “buy-and-hold” investor had looked into buying shares of Home Depot Inc (NYSE: HD) back in 2001. Let’s take a look at how such an investment would have worked out for that buy-and-hold investor:

Start date: 11/12/2001


End date: 11/11/2021
Start price/share: $41.12
End price/share: $367.63
Starting shares: 243.19
Ending shares: 373.26
Dividends reinvested/share: $40.44
Total return: 1,272.22%
Average annual return: 13.98%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $137,150.01

As we can see, the two-decade investment result worked out quite well, with an annualized rate of return of 13.98%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $137,150.01 today (as of 11/11/2021). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 1,272.22% (something to think about: how might HD shares perform over the next 20 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that Home Depot Inc paid investors a total of $40.44/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 6.6/share, we calculate that HD has a current yield of approximately 1.80%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 6.6 against the original $41.12/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 4.38%.

Another great investment quote to think about:
“Generally, the greater the stigma or revulsion, the better the bargain.” — Seth Klarman