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

— Warren Buffett

The investment philosophy practiced by Warren Buffett calls for investors to take a long-term horizon when making an investment, such as a twenty year holding period (or even longer), and reconsider making the investment in the first place if unable to envision holding the stock for at least five years. Today, we look at how such a long-term strategy would have done for investors in 3M Co (NYSE: MMM) back in 2002, holding through to today.

Start date: 12/19/2002


End date: 12/16/2022
Start price/share: $60.15
End price/share: $121.69
Starting shares: 166.25
Ending shares: 284.24
Dividends reinvested/share: $67.06
Total return: 245.90%
Average annual return: 6.40%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $34,592.36

As shown above, the twenty year investment result worked out well, with an annualized rate of return of 6.40%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $34,592.36 today (as of 12/16/2022). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 245.90% (something to think about: how might MMM shares perform over the next 20 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that 3M Co paid investors a total of $67.06/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 5.96/share, we calculate that MMM has a current yield of approximately 4.90%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 5.96 against the original $60.15/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 8.15%.

One more investment quote to leave you with:
“Buy not on optimism, but on arithmetic.” — Benjamin Graham