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

— Warren Buffett

The above quote from Warren Buffett is timeless, and brings into focus the choice about time horizon that any investor should think about before buying a stock they are considering. Behind every stock is an actual business; what will that business look like over a two-decade period?

Today, let’s look backwards in time to 2003, and take a look at what happened to investors who asked that very question about FedEx Corp (NYSE: FDX), by taking a look at the investment outcome over a two-decade holding period.

Start date: 08/21/2003


End date: 08/18/2023
Start price/share: $68.33
End price/share: $262.65
Starting shares: 146.35
Ending shares: 172.55
Dividends reinvested/share: $26.63
Total return: 353.19%
Average annual return: 7.85%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $45,350.58

The above analysis shows the two-decade investment result worked out well, with an annualized rate of return of 7.85%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $45,350.58 today (as of 08/18/2023). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 353.19% (something to think about: how might FDX shares perform over the next 20 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that FedEx Corp paid investors a total of $26.63/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 5.04/share, we calculate that FDX has a current yield of approximately 1.92%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 5.04 against the original $68.33/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 2.81%.

One more investment quote to leave you with:
“In the short run, the market is a voting machine but in the long run, it is a weighing machine.” — Benjamin Graham