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“Only buy something that you’d be perfectly happy to hold if the market shut down for 10 years.”

— Warren Buffett

The wisdom of Warren Buffett reflects a value-based philosophy about investing that says investors are buying shares in a business, and encourages strategic thinking about investment time horizon. Before placing a buy order for a stock, a great question we can ask is whether we would still be comfortable making the investment if we couldn’t sell it for many years?

A “buy-and-hold” approach may call for a time horizon that spans a long period of time — maybe even lasting for a decade-long holding period. Suppose such a “buy-and-hold” investor had looked into buying shares of ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) back in 2013. Let’s take a look at how such an investment would have worked out for that buy-and-hold investor:

Start date: 09/30/2013


End date: 09/27/2023
Start price/share: $69.51
End price/share: $123.09
Starting shares: 143.86
Ending shares: 201.43
Dividends reinvested/share: $22.99
Total return: 147.94%
Average annual return: 9.51%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $24,798.74

The above analysis shows the decade-long investment result worked out well, with an annualized rate of return of 9.51%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 10 years ago into $24,798.74 today (as of 09/27/2023). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 147.94% (something to think about: how might COP shares perform over the next 10 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that ConocoPhillips paid investors a total of $22.99/share in dividends over the 10 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 2.04/share, we calculate that COP has a current yield of approximately 1.66%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 2.04 against the original $69.51/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 2.39%.

One more investment quote to leave you with:
“All you need for a lifetime of successful investing is a few big winners, and the pluses from those will overwhelm the minuses from the stocks that don’t work out.” — Peter Lynch