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

— Warren Buffett

The Warren Buffett investment philosophy calls for a long-term investment horizon, where a two-decade holding period, or even longer, would fit right into the strategy. How would such a strategy have worked out for an investment into Costco Wholesale Corp (NASD: COST)? Today, we examine the outcome of a two-decade investment into the stock back in 2002.

Start date: 04/15/2002


End date: 04/12/2022
Start price/share: $42.00
End price/share: $581.36
Starting shares: 238.10
Ending shares: 340.35
Dividends reinvested/share: $54.10
Total return: 1,878.64%
Average annual return: 16.09%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $197,811.38

As shown above, the two-decade investment result worked out exceptionally well, with an annualized rate of return of 16.09%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $197,811.38 today (as of 04/12/2022). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 1,878.64% (something to think about: how might COST shares perform over the next 20 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that Costco Wholesale Corp paid investors a total of $54.10/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 3.16/share, we calculate that COST has a current yield of approximately 0.54%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 3.16 against the original $42.00/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 1.29%.

More investment wisdom to ponder:
“Twenty years in this business convinces me that any normal person using the customary three percent of the brain can pick stocks just as well, if not better, than the average Wall Street expert.” — Peter Lynch