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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 twenty year holding period. Suppose such a “buy-and-hold” investor had looked into buying shares of Kroger Co (NYSE: KR) 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: 12/17/2001


End date: 12/15/2021
Start price/share: $10.08
End price/share: $46.22
Starting shares: 992.06
Ending shares: 1,291.84
Dividends reinvested/share: $5.83
Total return: 497.09%
Average annual return: 9.34%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $59,689.80

The above analysis shows the twenty year investment result worked out well, with an annualized rate of return of 9.34%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $59,689.80 today (as of 12/15/2021). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 497.09% (something to think about: how might KR shares perform over the next 20 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that Kroger Co paid investors a total of $5.83/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 .84/share, we calculate that KR has a current yield of approximately 1.82%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of .84 against the original $10.08/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 18.06%.

Here’s one more great investment quote before you go:
“A lot of people with high IQs are terrible investors because they’ve got terrible temperaments. You need to keep raw, irrational emotion under control.” — Charlie Munger