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“I buy on the assumption that they could close the market the next day and not reopen it for five years.”

— 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 five year holding period. Suppose such a “buy-and-hold” investor had looked into buying shares of Northrop Grumman Corp (NYSE: NOC) back in 2017. Let’s take a look at how such an investment would have worked out for that buy-and-hold investor:

Start date: 05/24/2017


End date: 05/23/2022
Start price/share: $253.38
End price/share: $456.77
Starting shares: 39.47
Ending shares: 42.60
Dividends reinvested/share: $24.69
Total return: 94.59%
Average annual return: 14.24%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $19,457.68

As we can see, the five year investment result worked out quite well, with an annualized rate of return of 14.24%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 5 years ago into $19,457.68 today (as of 05/23/2022). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 94.59% (something to think about: how might NOC shares perform over the next 5 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that Northrop Grumman Corp paid investors a total of $24.69/share in dividends over the 5 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 6.92/share, we calculate that NOC has a current yield of approximately 1.52%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 6.92 against the original $253.38/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 0.60%.

More investment wisdom to ponder:
“The individual investor should act consistently as an investor and not as a speculator.” — Benjamin Graham