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“I buy on the assumption that they could close the market the next day and not reopen it for five years.”

— Warren Buffett

The Warren Buffett investment philosophy calls for a long-term investment horizon, where a five year holding period, or even longer, would fit right into the strategy. How would such a strategy have worked out for an investment into UnitedHealth Group Inc (NYSE: UNH)? Today, we examine the outcome of a five year investment into the stock back in 2018.

Start date: 06/28/2018


End date: 06/27/2023
Start price/share: $244.90
End price/share: $482.56
Starting shares: 40.83
Ending shares: 43.95
Dividends reinvested/share: $26.30
Total return: 112.09%
Average annual return: 16.23%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $21,212.47

As shown above, the five year investment result worked out exceptionally well, with an annualized rate of return of 16.23%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 5 years ago into $21,212.47 today (as of 06/27/2023). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 112.09% (something to think about: how might UNH shares perform over the next 5 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that UnitedHealth Group Inc paid investors a total of $26.30/share in dividends over the 5 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 7.52/share, we calculate that UNH has a current yield of approximately 1.56%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 7.52 against the original $244.90/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 0.64%.

One more investment quote to leave you with:
“We ignore outlooks and forecasts… we’re lousy at it and we admit it … everyone else is lousy too, but most people won’t admit it.” — Martin Whitman