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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

One of the most important things investors can learn from Warren Buffett, is about how they approach their time horizon for an investment into a stock under consideration. Because immediately after buying shares of a given stock, investors will then be able to check on the day-to-day (and even minute-by-minute) market value. Some days the stock market will be up, other days down. These daily fluctuations can often distract from the long-term view. Today, we look at the result of a ten year holding period for an investor who was considering American Tower Corp (NYSE: AMT) back in 2012, bought the stock, ignored the market’s ups and downs, and simply held through to today.

Start date: 09/04/2012


End date: 08/31/2022
Start price/share: $70.78
End price/share: $254.05
Starting shares: 141.28
Ending shares: 169.90
Dividends reinvested/share: $29.07
Total return: 331.64%
Average annual return: 15.76%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $43,175.45

As shown above, the ten year investment result worked out exceptionally well, with an annualized rate of return of 15.76%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 10 years ago into $43,175.45 today (as of 08/31/2022). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 331.64% (something to think about: how might AMT shares perform over the next 10 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that American Tower Corp paid investors a total of $29.07/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 5.72/share, we calculate that AMT has a current yield of approximately 2.25%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 5.72 against the original $70.78/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 3.18%.

One more investment quote to leave you with:
“In the end, how your investments behave is much less important than how you behave.” — Benjamin Graham