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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 Warren Buffett investment philosophy calls for a long-term investment horizon, where a five year holding period, or even longer, would fit right into the strategy. How would such a strategy have worked out for an investment into General Electric Co (NYSE: GE)? Today, we examine the outcome of a five year investment into the stock back in 2017.

Start date: 09/28/2017


End date: 09/27/2022
Start price/share: $186.48
End price/share: $64.47
Starting shares: 53.63
Ending shares: 56.40
Dividends reinvested/share: $4.97
Total return: -63.64%
Average annual return: -18.32%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $3,635.62

As we can see, the five year investment result worked out poorly, with an annualized rate of return of -18.32%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 5 years ago into $3,635.62 today (as of 09/27/2022). On a total return basis, that’s a result of -63.64% (something to think about: how might GE shares perform over the next 5 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that General Electric Co paid investors a total of $4.97/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 .32/share, we calculate that GE has a current yield of approximately 0.50%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of .32 against the original $186.48/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 0.27%.

More investment wisdom to ponder:
“If you don’t study any companies, you have the same success buying stocks as you do in a poker game if you bet without looking at your cards.” — Peter Lynch