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

— Warren Buffett

One of the most important things investors can learn from Warren Buffett, is about how they approach their time horizon for an investment into a stock under consideration. Because immediately after buying shares of a given stock, investors will then be able to check on the day-to-day (and even minute-by-minute) market value. Some days the stock market will be up, other days down. These daily fluctuations can often distract from the long-term view. Today, we look at the result of a two-decade holding period for an investor who was considering Yum! Brands Inc (NYSE: YUM) back in 2003, bought the stock, ignored the market’s ups and downs, and simply held through to today.

Start date: 08/29/2003


End date: 08/28/2023
Start price/share: $10.66
End price/share: $129.31
Starting shares: 938.09
Ending shares: 1,331.98
Dividends reinvested/share: $21.03
Total return: 1,622.38%
Average annual return: 15.28%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $172,090.19

As we can see, the two-decade investment result worked out exceptionally well, with an annualized rate of return of 15.28%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $172,090.19 today (as of 08/28/2023). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 1,622.38% (something to think about: how might YUM shares perform over the next 20 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that Yum! Brands Inc paid investors a total of $21.03/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 2.42/share, we calculate that YUM has a current yield of approximately 1.87%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 2.42 against the original $10.66/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 17.54%.

More investment wisdom to ponder:
“The best stock to buy is the one you already own.” — Peter Lynch