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

— 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 twenty year holding period possibly?

Suppose a “buy-and-hold” investor was considering an investment into US Bancorp (NYSE: USB) back in 2002: back then, such an investor may have been pondering this very same question. Had they answered “yes” to a full twenty year investment time horizon and then actually held for these past 20 years, here’s how that investment would have turned out.

Start date: 11/21/2002


End date: 11/18/2022
Start price/share: $22.20
End price/share: $43.38
Starting shares: 450.45
Ending shares: 840.30
Dividends reinvested/share: $22.95
Total return: 264.52%
Average annual return: 6.68%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $36,459.78

As shown above, the twenty year investment result worked out well, with an annualized rate of return of 6.68%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $36,459.78 today (as of 11/18/2022). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 264.52% (something to think about: how might USB shares perform over the next 20 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that US Bancorp paid investors a total of $22.95/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 1.92/share, we calculate that USB has a current yield of approximately 4.43%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 1.92 against the original $22.20/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 19.95%.

More investment wisdom to ponder:
“People who invest make money for themselves; people who speculate make money for their brokers.” — Benjamin Graham