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

— Warren Buffett

One of the most important things investors can learn from Warren Buffett, is about how they approach their time horizon for an investment into a stock under consideration. Because immediately after buying shares of a given stock, investors will then be able to check on the day-to-day (and even minute-by-minute) market value. Some days the stock market will be up, other days down. These daily fluctuations can often distract from the long-term view. Today, we look at the result of a twenty year holding period for an investor who was considering Berkley Corp (NYSE: WRB) back in 2003, bought the stock, ignored the market’s ups and downs, and simply held through to today.

Start date: 01/13/2003


End date: 01/10/2023
Start price/share: $5.21
End price/share: $73.35
Starting shares: 1,919.39
Ending shares: 2,590.48
Dividends reinvested/share: $8.36
Total return: 1,800.12%
Average annual return: 15.86%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $190,116.93

As we can see, the twenty year investment result worked out exceptionally well, with an annualized rate of return of 15.86%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $190,116.93 today (as of 01/10/2023). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 1,800.12% (something to think about: how might WRB shares perform over the next 20 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that Berkley Corp paid investors a total of $8.36/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 .4/share, we calculate that WRB has a current yield of approximately 0.55%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of .4 against the original $5.21/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 10.56%.

One more investment quote to leave you with:
“Experience taught me a few things. One is to listen to your gut, no matter how good something sounds on paper. The second is that you’re generally better off sticking with what you know. And the third is that sometimes your best investments are the ones you don’t make.” — Donald Trump