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

— Warren Buffett

The wisdom of Warren Buffett reflects a value-based philosophy about investing that says investors are buying shares in a business, and encourages strategic thinking about investment time horizon. Before placing a buy order for a stock, a great question we can ask is whether we would still be comfortable making the investment if we couldn’t sell it for many years?

A “buy-and-hold” approach may call for a time horizon that spans a long period of time — maybe even lasting for a two-decade holding period. Suppose such a “buy-and-hold” investor had looked into buying shares of Roper Technologies Inc (NYSE: ROP) back in 2003. Let’s take a look at how such an investment would have worked out for that buy-and-hold investor:

Start date: 03/31/2003


End date: 03/30/2023
Start price/share: $14.43
End price/share: $437.00
Starting shares: 693.00
Ending shares: 782.36
Dividends reinvested/share: $19.06
Total return: 3,318.92%
Average annual return: 19.31%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $342,111.08

As we can see, the two-decade investment result worked out exceptionally well, with an annualized rate of return of 19.31%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $342,111.08 today (as of 03/30/2023). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 3,318.92% (something to think about: how might ROP shares perform over the next 20 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that Roper Technologies Inc paid investors a total of $19.06/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 2.73/share, we calculate that ROP has a current yield of approximately 0.62%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 2.73 against the original $14.43/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 4.30%.

One more piece of investment wisdom to leave you with:
“The most important three words in investing is: “I don’t know.” If someone doesn’t say that to you then they are lying.” — James Altucher