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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 3M Co (NYSE: MMM)? Today, we examine the outcome of a two-decade investment into the stock back in 2003.

Start date: 08/15/2003


End date: 08/14/2023
Start price/share: $71.33
End price/share: $103.42
Starting shares: 140.19
Ending shares: 243.97
Dividends reinvested/share: $69.40
Total return: 152.31%
Average annual return: 4.73%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $25,214.02

As we can see, the two-decade investment result worked out as follows, with an annualized rate of return of 4.73%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $25,214.02 today (as of 08/14/2023). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 152.31% (something to think about: how might MMM shares perform over the next 20 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that 3M Co paid investors a total of $69.40/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 6/share, we calculate that MMM has a current yield of approximately 5.80%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 6 against the original $71.33/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 8.13%.

Here’s one more great investment quote before you go:
“How many millionaires do you know who have become wealthy by investing in savings accounts? I rest my case.” — Robert Allen