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

— Warren Buffett

The Warren Buffett investment philosophy calls for a long-term investment horizon, where a two-decade holding period, or even longer, would fit right into the strategy. How would such a strategy have worked out for an investment into Automatic Data Processing Inc. (NASD: ADP)? Today, we examine the outcome of a two-decade investment into the stock back in 2004.

Start date: 01/23/2004


End date: 01/22/2024
Start price/share: $33.50
End price/share: $239.40
Starting shares: 298.51
Ending shares: 475.49
Dividends reinvested/share: $41.50
Total return: 1,038.33%
Average annual return: 12.92%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $113,761.60

As shown above, the two-decade investment result worked out quite well, with an annualized rate of return of 12.92%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $113,761.60 today (as of 01/22/2024). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 1,038.33% (something to think about: how might ADP 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, Automatic Data Processing Inc. has paid $41.50/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 5.6/share, we calculate that ADP has a current yield of approximately 2.34%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 5.6 against the original $33.50/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 6.99%.

More investment wisdom to ponder:
“Thousands of experts study overbought indicators, head-and-shoulder patterns, put-call ratios, the Fed’s policy on money supply…and they can’t predict markets with any useful consistency, any more than the gizzard squeezers could tell the Roman emperors when the Huns would attack.” — Peter Lynch