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“Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”

— Warren Buffett

The above quote from Warren Buffett is timeless, and brings into focus the choice about time horizon that any investor should think about before buying a stock they are considering. Behind every stock is an actual business; what will that business look like over a two-decade period?

Today, let’s look backwards in time to 2002, and take a look at what happened to investors who asked that very question about General Mills Inc (NYSE: GIS), by taking a look at the investment outcome over a two-decade holding period.

Start date: 09/13/2002


End date: 09/12/2022
Start price/share: $21.13
End price/share: $76.15
Starting shares: 473.26
Ending shares: 868.00
Dividends reinvested/share: $26.48
Total return: 560.98%
Average annual return: 9.90%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $66,130.70

The above analysis shows the two-decade investment result worked out well, with an annualized rate of return of 9.90%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $66,130.70 today (as of 09/12/2022). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 560.98% (something to think about: how might GIS shares perform over the next 20 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Always an important consideration with a dividend-paying company is: should we reinvest our dividends?Over the past 20 years, General Mills Inc has paid $26.48/share in dividends. For the above analysis, we assume that the investor reinvests dividends into new shares of stock (for the above calculations, the reinvestment is performed using closing price on ex-div date for that dividend).

Based upon the most recent annualized dividend rate of 2.16/share, we calculate that GIS has a current yield of approximately 2.84%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 2.16 against the original $21.13/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 13.44%.

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