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“When we own portions of outstanding businesses with outstanding managements, our favorite holding period is forever.”

— 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 two-decade holding period. Suppose such a “buy-and-hold” investor had looked into buying shares of Western Digital Corp (NASD: WDC) back in 2003. Let’s take a look at how such an investment would have worked out for that buy-and-hold investor:

Start date: 10/13/2003


End date: 10/11/2023
Start price/share: $14.24
End price/share: $46.39
Starting shares: 702.25
Ending shares: 872.92
Dividends reinvested/share: $13.55
Total return: 304.95%
Average annual return: 7.24%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $40,493.53

As shown above, the two-decade investment result worked out well, with an annualized rate of return of 7.24%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $40,493.53 today (as of 10/11/2023). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 304.95% (something to think about: how might WDC shares perform over the next 20 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Dividends are always an important investment factor to consider, and Western Digital Corp has paid $13.55/share in dividends to shareholders over the past 20 years we looked at above. Many an investor will only invest in stocks that pay dividends, so this component of total return is always an important consideration. Automated reinvestment of dividends into additional shares of stock can be a great way for an investor to compound their returns. The above calculations are done with the assuption that dividends received over time are reinvested (the calcuations use the closing price on ex-date).

Based upon the most recent annualized dividend rate of 2/share, we calculate that WDC has a current yield of approximately 4.31%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 2 against the original $14.24/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 30.27%.

More investment wisdom to ponder:
“To achieve satisfactory investment results is easier than most people realize; to achieve superior results is harder than it looks.” — Benjamin Graham