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

— Warren Buffett

A key lesson we can learn from Warren Buffett, is about how to think about a potential stock investment in the context of a long-term time horizon. Every investor in a stock has a choice: bite our fingernails over the short-term ups and downs that are inevitable with the stock market, or, zero in on stocks we are comfortable to simply buy and hold for the long haul — maybe even a two-decade holding period. Heck, investors can even choose to completely ignore the stock market’s short-run quotations and instead go into their initial investment planning to hold on for years and years regardless of the fluctuations in price that might occur next.

Today, we examine what would have happened over a two-decade holding period, had you decided back in 2003 to buy shares of Air Products & Chemicals Inc (NYSE: APD) and simply hold through to today.

Start date: 05/12/2003


End date: 05/11/2023
Start price/share: $40.49
End price/share: $276.55
Starting shares: 246.97
Ending shares: 392.79
Dividends reinvested/share: $58.28
Total return: 986.27%
Average annual return: 12.66%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $108,633.13

As shown above, the two-decade investment result worked out quite well, with an annualized rate of return of 12.66%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $108,633.13 today (as of 05/11/2023). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 986.27% (something to think about: how might APD 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 Air Products & Chemicals Inc has paid $58.28/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 7/share, we calculate that APD has a current yield of approximately 2.53%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 7 against the original $40.49/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 6.25%.

More investment wisdom to ponder:
“You don’t need to be a rocket scientist. Investing is not a game where the guy with the 160 IQ beats the guy with 130 IQ.” — Warren Buffett