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

— Warren Buffett

The investment philosophy practiced by Warren Buffett calls for investors to take a long-term horizon when making an investment, such as a two-decade holding period (or even longer), and reconsider making the investment in the first place if unable to envision holding the stock for at least five years. Today, we look at how such a long-term strategy would have done for investors in McDonald’s Corp (NYSE: MCD) back in 2002, holding through to today.

Start date: 05/17/2002


End date: 05/16/2022
Start price/share: $30.01
End price/share: $244.04
Starting shares: 333.22
Ending shares: 566.48
Dividends reinvested/share: $53.56
Total return: 1,282.43%
Average annual return: 14.03%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $138,358.98

As shown above, the two-decade investment result worked out quite well, with an annualized rate of return of 14.03%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $138,358.98 today (as of 05/16/2022). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 1,282.43% (something to think about: how might MCD shares perform over the next 20 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Many investors out there refuse to own any stock that lacks a dividend; in the case of McDonald’s Corp, investors have received $53.56/share in dividends these past 20 years examined in the exercise above. This means total return was driven not just by share price, but also by the dividends received (and what the investor did with those dividends). For this exercise, what we’ve done with the dividends is to assume they are reinvestted — i.e. used to purchase additional shares (the calculations use closing price on ex-date).

Based upon the most recent annualized dividend rate of 5.52/share, we calculate that MCD has a current yield of approximately 2.26%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 5.52 against the original $30.01/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 7.53%.

Here’s one more great investment quote before you go:
“When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is.” — Oscar Wilde