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“Only buy something that you’d be perfectly happy to hold if the market shut down for 10 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 decade-long holding period. Suppose such a “buy-and-hold” investor had looked into buying shares of ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) back in 2012. Let’s take a look at how such an investment would have worked out for that buy-and-hold investor:

Start date: 08/10/2012


End date: 08/09/2022
Start price/share: $57.28
End price/share: $95.51
Starting shares: 174.58
Ending shares: 240.84
Dividends reinvested/share: $19.26
Total return: 130.03%
Average annual return: 8.68%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $22,992.98

The above analysis shows the decade-long investment result worked out well, with an annualized rate of return of 8.68%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 10 years ago into $22,992.98 today (as of 08/09/2022). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 130.03% (something to think about: how might COP shares perform over the next 10 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that ConocoPhillips paid investors a total of $19.26/share in dividends over the 10 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 1.84/share, we calculate that COP has a current yield of approximately 1.93%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 1.84 against the original $57.28/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 3.37%.

More investment wisdom to ponder:
“A market downturn doesn’t bother us. It is an opportunity to increase our ownership of great companies with great management at good prices.” — Warren Buffett