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

— 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 Automatic Data Processing Inc. (NASD: ADP) 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: 12/27/2001


End date: 12/23/2021
Start price/share: $47.37
End price/share: $242.00
Starting shares: 211.10
Ending shares: 330.62
Dividends reinvested/share: $32.74
Total return: 700.10%
Average annual return: 10.96%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $80,066.84

As we can see, the two-decade investment result worked out quite well, with an annualized rate of return of 10.96%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $80,066.84 today (as of 12/23/2021). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 700.10% (something to think about: how might ADP shares perform over the next 20 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Always an important consideration with a dividend-paying company is: should we reinvest our dividends?Over the past 20 years, Automatic Data Processing Inc. has paid $32.74/share in dividends. For the above analysis, we assume that the investor reinvests dividends into new shares of stock (for the above calculations, the reinvestment is performed using closing price on ex-div date for that dividend).

Based upon the most recent annualized dividend rate of 4.16/share, we calculate that ADP has a current yield of approximately 1.72%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 4.16 against the original $47.37/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 3.63%.

More investment wisdom to ponder:
“You get recessions, you have stock market declines. If you don’t understand that’s going to happen, then you’re not ready, you won’t do well in the markets.” — Peter Lynch