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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 twenty year 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 Cummins, Inc. (NYSE: CMI), by taking a look at the investment outcome over a twenty year holding period.

Start date: 10/10/2003


End date: 10/09/2023
Start price/share: $12.70
End price/share: $228.09
Starting shares: 787.40
Ending shares: 1,208.15
Dividends reinvested/share: $54.60
Total return: 2,655.68%
Average annual return: 18.02%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $275,359.94

As we can see, the twenty year investment result worked out exceptionally well, with an annualized rate of return of 18.02%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $275,359.94 today (as of 10/09/2023). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 2,655.68% (something to think about: how might CMI shares perform over the next 20 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Always an important consideration with a dividend-paying company is: should we reinvest our dividends?Over the past 20 years, Cummins, Inc. has paid $54.60/share in dividends. For the above analysis, we assume that the investor reinvests dividends into new shares of stock (for the above calculations, the reinvestment is performed using closing price on ex-div date for that dividend).

Based upon the most recent annualized dividend rate of 6.72/share, we calculate that CMI has a current yield of approximately 2.95%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 6.72 against the original $12.70/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 23.23%.

More investment wisdom to ponder:
“You don’t need to be a rocket scientist. Investing is not a game where the guy with the 160 IQ beats the guy with 130 IQ.” — Warren Buffett