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“When we own portions of outstanding businesses with outstanding managements, our favorite holding period is forever.”

— 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 twenty year 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 Sysco Corp (NYSE: SYY), by taking a look at the investment outcome over a twenty year holding period.

Start date: 11/04/2002


End date: 11/02/2022
Start price/share: $32.14
End price/share: $81.45
Starting shares: 311.14
Ending shares: 534.41
Dividends reinvested/share: $22.56
Total return: 335.27%
Average annual return: 7.63%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $43,535.32

The above analysis shows the twenty year investment result worked out well, with an annualized rate of return of 7.63%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $43,535.32 today (as of 11/02/2022). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 335.27% (something to think about: how might SYY shares perform over the next 20 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that Sysco Corp paid investors a total of $22.56/share in dividends over the 20 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 1.96/share, we calculate that SYY has a current yield of approximately 2.41%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 1.96 against the original $32.14/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 7.50%.

One more piece of investment wisdom to leave you with:
“A stock is not just a ticker symbol or an electronic blip; it is an ownership interest in an actual business, with an underlying value that does not depend on its share price.” — Benjamin Graham