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

— Warren Buffett

The Warren Buffett investment philosophy calls for a long-term investment horizon, where a two-decade holding period, or even longer, would fit right into the strategy. How would such a strategy have worked out for an investment into American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP)? Today, we examine the outcome of a two-decade investment into the stock back in 2003.

Start date: 03/31/2003


End date: 03/30/2023
Start price/share: $29.09
End price/share: $162.41
Starting shares: 343.76
Ending shares: 459.35
Dividends reinvested/share: $20.28
Total return: 646.03%
Average annual return: 10.57%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $74,662.90

As shown above, the two-decade investment result worked out quite well, with an annualized rate of return of 10.57%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $74,662.90 today (as of 03/30/2023). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 646.03% (something to think about: how might AXP shares perform over the next 20 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Dividends are always an important investment factor to consider, and American Express Co. has paid $20.28/share in dividends to shareholders over the past 20 years we looked at above. Many an investor will only invest in stocks that pay dividends, so this component of total return is always an important consideration. Automated reinvestment of dividends into additional shares of stock can be a great way for an investor to compound their returns. The above calculations are done with the assuption that dividends received over time are reinvested (the calcuations use the closing price on ex-date).

Based upon the most recent annualized dividend rate of 2.4/share, we calculate that AXP has a current yield of approximately 1.48%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 2.4 against the original $29.09/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 5.09%.

One more piece of investment wisdom to leave you with:
“Taking risks is really the only way to consistently achieve above-average returns.” — Sam Zell