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

— 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 twenty year holding period for an investor who was considering Exxon Mobil Corp (NYSE: XOM) back in 2002, bought the stock, ignored the market’s ups and downs, and simply held through to today.

Start date: 03/18/2002


End date: 03/17/2022
Start price/share: $43.74
End price/share: $78.98
Starting shares: 228.62
Ending shares: 433.99
Dividends reinvested/share: $44.09
Total return: 242.77%
Average annual return: 6.35%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $34,274.38

As shown above, the twenty year investment result worked out well, with an annualized rate of return of 6.35%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $34,274.38 today (as of 03/17/2022). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 242.77% (something to think about: how might XOM shares perform over the next 20 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that Exxon Mobil Corp paid investors a total of $44.09/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 3.52/share, we calculate that XOM has a current yield of approximately 4.46%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 3.52 against the original $43.74/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 10.20%.

Another great investment quote to think about:
“It’s not whether you’re right or wrong that’s important, but how much money you make when you’re right and how much you lose when you’re wrong.” — George Soros