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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 Dollar General Corp (NYSE: DG) 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: 05/08/2017


End date: 05/05/2022
Start price/share: $73.69
End price/share: $233.64
Starting shares: 135.70
Ending shares: 142.32
Dividends reinvested/share: $6.89
Total return: 232.52%
Average annual return: 27.20%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $33,255.46

As shown above, the five year investment result worked out exceptionally well, with an annualized rate of return of 27.20%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 5 years ago into $33,255.46 today (as of 05/05/2022). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 232.52% (something to think about: how might DG shares perform over the next 5 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that Dollar General Corp paid investors a total of $6.89/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 2.2/share, we calculate that DG has a current yield of approximately 0.94%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 2.2 against the original $73.69/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 1.28%.

One more investment quote to leave you with:
“There’s a virtuous cycle when people have to defend challenges to their ideas. Any gaps in thinking or analysis become clear pretty quickly when smart people ask good, logical questions.” — Joel Greenblatt