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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

Investors can learn a lot from Warren Buffett, whose above quote teaches the importance of thinking about investment time horizon, and asking ourselves before buying any given stock: can we envision holding onto it for years — even a five year holding period possibly?

Suppose a “buy-and-hold” investor was considering an investment into Microsoft Corporation (NASD: MSFT) back in 2017: back then, such an investor may have been pondering this very same question. Had they answered “yes” to a full five year investment time horizon and then actually held for these past 5 years, here’s how that investment would have turned out.

Start date: 06/20/2017


End date: 06/17/2022
Start price/share: $69.91
End price/share: $247.65
Starting shares: 143.04
Ending shares: 152.75
Dividends reinvested/share: $10.05
Total return: 278.30%
Average annual return: 30.52%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $37,822.61

As we can see, the five year investment result worked out exceptionally well, with an annualized rate of return of 30.52%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 5 years ago into $37,822.61 today (as of 06/17/2022). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 278.30% (something to think about: how might MSFT shares perform over the next 5 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that Microsoft Corporation paid investors a total of $10.05/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 2.48/share, we calculate that MSFT has a current yield of approximately 1.00%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 2.48 against the original $69.91/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 1.43%.

Another great investment quote to think about:
“Confronted with a challenge to distill the secret of sound investment into three words, we venture the motto, Margin of Safety.” — Benjamin Graham