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

— Warren Buffett

A critical pearl of wisdom from Warren Buffett teaches us that with any potential stock investment we may make, as soon as our buy order is filled we will have a choice: to remain a co-owner of that company for the long haul, or to react to the inevitable short-term ups and downs that the stock market is famous for (sometimes sharp ups and downs).

The reality of this choice forces us to challenge our confidence in any given company we might invest into, and keep our eyes on the long-term time horizon. The market may go up and down the interim, but over a twenty year holding period, will the investment succeed?

Back in 2003, investors may have been asking themselves that very question about Corning Inc (NYSE: GLW). Let’s examine what would have happened over a twenty year holding period, had you invested in GLW shares back in 2003 and held on.

Start date: 11/17/2003


End date: 11/16/2023
Start price/share: $11.10
End price/share: $28.38
Starting shares: 900.90
Ending shares: 1,303.59
Dividends reinvested/share: $9.23
Total return: 269.96%
Average annual return: 6.76%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $37,023.94

As we can see, the twenty year investment result worked out well, with an annualized rate of return of 6.76%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $37,023.94 today (as of 11/16/2023). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 269.96% (something to think about: how might GLW shares perform over the next 20 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Many investors out there refuse to own any stock that lacks a dividend; in the case of Corning Inc, investors have received $9.23/share in dividends these past 20 years examined in the exercise above. This means total return was driven not just by share price, but also by the dividends received (and what the investor did with those dividends). For this exercise, what we’ve done with the dividends is to assume they are reinvestted — i.e. used to purchase additional shares (the calculations use closing price on ex-date).

Based upon the most recent annualized dividend rate of 1.12/share, we calculate that GLW has a current yield of approximately 3.95%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 1.12 against the original $11.10/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 35.59%.

More investment wisdom to ponder:
“Twenty years in this business convinces me that any normal person using the customary three percent of the brain can pick stocks just as well, if not better, than the average Wall Street expert.” — Peter Lynch