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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

The investment philosophy practiced by Warren Buffett calls for investors to take a long-term horizon when making an investment, such as a decade-long 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 Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT) back in 2012, holding through to today.

Start date: 12/13/2012


End date: 12/12/2022
Start price/share: $31.34
End price/share: $109.49
Starting shares: 319.08
Ending shares: 385.44
Dividends reinvested/share: $12.02
Total return: 322.01%
Average annual return: 15.48%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $42,192.86

As we can see, the decade-long investment result worked out exceptionally well, with an annualized rate of return of 15.48%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 10 years ago into $42,192.86 today (as of 12/12/2022). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 322.01% (something to think about: how might ABT shares perform over the next 10 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that Abbott Laboratories paid investors a total of $12.02/share in dividends over the 10 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 1.88/share, we calculate that ABT has a current yield of approximately 1.72%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 1.88 against the original $31.34/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 5.49%.

More investment wisdom to ponder:
“You can’t be a good value investor without being an independent thinker; you’re seeing valuations that the market is not appreciating. But it’s critical that you understand why the market isn’t seeing the value you do.” — Joel Greenblatt