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

— Warren Buffett

A key lesson we can learn from Warren Buffett, is about how to think about a potential stock investment in the context of a long-term time horizon. Every investor in a stock has a choice: bite our fingernails over the short-term ups and downs that are inevitable with the stock market, or, zero in on stocks we are comfortable to simply buy and hold for the long haul — maybe even a two-decade holding period. Heck, investors can even choose to completely ignore the stock market’s short-run quotations and instead go into their initial investment planning to hold on for years and years regardless of the fluctuations in price that might occur next.

Today, we examine what would have happened over a two-decade holding period, had you decided back in 2004 to buy shares of AutoZone, Inc. (NYSE: AZO) and simply hold through to today.

Start date: 02/02/2004


End date: 01/31/2024
Start price/share: $84.60
End price/share: $2,762.13
Starting shares: 118.20
Ending shares: 118.20
Dividends reinvested/share: $0.00
Total return: 3,164.93%
Average annual return: 19.03%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $326,400.27

The above analysis shows the two-decade investment result worked out exceptionally well, with an annualized rate of return of 19.03%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $326,400.27 today (as of 01/31/2024). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 3,164.93% (something to think about: how might AZO shares perform over the next 20 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Here’s one more great investment quote before you go:
“How many millionaires do you know who have become wealthy by investing in savings accounts? I rest my case.” — Robert Allen