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

— Warren Buffett

The investment philosophy practiced by Warren Buffett calls for investors to take a long-term horizon when making an investment, such as a two-decade holding period (or even longer), and reconsider making the investment in the first place if unable to envision holding the stock for at least five years. Today, we look at how such a long-term strategy would have done for investors in Merck & Co Inc (NYSE: MRK) back in 2003, holding through to today.

Start date: 06/09/2003


End date: 06/08/2023
Start price/share: $55.63
End price/share: $110.32
Starting shares: 179.76
Ending shares: 387.48
Dividends reinvested/share: $37.52
Total return: 327.47%
Average annual return: 7.53%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $42,750.23

As shown above, the two-decade investment result worked out well, with an annualized rate of return of 7.53%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $42,750.23 today (as of 06/08/2023). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 327.47% (something to think about: how might MRK shares perform over the next 20 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Beyond share price change, another component of MRK’s total return these past 20 years has been the payment by Merck & Co Inc of $37.52/share in dividends to shareholders. Automatic reinvestment of dividends can be a wonderful way to compound returns, and for the above calculations we presume that dividends are reinvested into additional shares of stock. (For the purpose of these calcuations, the closing price on ex-date is used).

Based upon the most recent annualized dividend rate of 2.92/share, we calculate that MRK has a current yield of approximately 2.65%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 2.92 against the original $55.63/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 4.76%.

One more investment quote to leave you with:
“The person who starts simply with the idea of getting rich won’t succeed; you must have a larger ambition.” — John Rockefeller