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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

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 ten year holding period possibly?

Suppose a “buy-and-hold” investor was considering an investment into Waste Management, Inc. (NYSE: WM) back in 2012: back then, such an investor may have been pondering this very same question. Had they answered “yes” to a full ten year investment time horizon and then actually held for these past 10 years, here’s how that investment would have turned out.

Start date: 11/12/2012


End date: 11/09/2022
Start price/share: $31.81
End price/share: $158.20
Starting shares: 314.37
Ending shares: 401.64
Dividends reinvested/share: $18.54
Total return: 535.39%
Average annual return: 20.32%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $63,556.23

As shown above, the ten year investment result worked out exceptionally well, with an annualized rate of return of 20.32%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 10 years ago into $63,556.23 today (as of 11/09/2022). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 535.39% (something to think about: how might WM shares perform over the next 10 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Many investors out there refuse to own any stock that lacks a dividend; in the case of Waste Management, Inc., investors have received $18.54/share in dividends these past 10 years examined in the exercise above. This means total return was driven not just by share price, but also by the dividends received (and what the investor did with those dividends). For this exercise, what we’ve done with the dividends is to assume they are reinvestted — i.e. used to purchase additional shares (the calculations use closing price on ex-date).

Based upon the most recent annualized dividend rate of 2.6/share, we calculate that WM has a current yield of approximately 1.64%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 2.6 against the original $31.81/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 5.16%.

Another great investment quote to think about:
“The individual investor should act consistently as an investor and not as a speculator.” — Benjamin Graham