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

— Warren Buffett

Such a great quote from Warren Buffett, highlighting the importance of investment time horizon when considering making an investment. In the short run, who knows what the stock market will do? A week or two after buying any given stock, could the entire stock market fall out of bed? Quite possibly! Should that happen, how would you react? It is an excellent question to think about before hitting the buy button.

For investors who take a multi-year time horizon, the important thing is not what happens in the next week or two, but what the result will be over the long haul. Today, we look at the result investors of the year 2004 experienced, who considered an investment in shares of AT&T Inc (NYSE: T) and decided upon a twenty year investment time horizon.

Start date: 02/05/2004


End date: 02/02/2024
Start price/share: $19.40
End price/share: $17.83
Starting shares: 515.46
Ending shares: 1,583.81
Dividends reinvested/share: $26.02
Total return: 182.39%
Average annual return: 5.33%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $28,259.55

The above analysis shows the twenty year investment result worked out well, with an annualized rate of return of 5.33%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $28,259.55 today (as of 02/02/2024). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 182.39% (something to think about: how might T shares perform over the next 20 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Beyond share price change, another component of T’s total return these past 20 years has been the payment by AT&T Inc of $26.02/share in dividends to shareholders. Automatic reinvestment of dividends can be a wonderful way to compound returns, and for the above calculations we presume that dividends are reinvested into additional shares of stock. (For the purpose of these calcuations, the closing price on ex-date is used).

Based upon the most recent annualized dividend rate of 1.11/share, we calculate that T has a current yield of approximately 6.23%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 1.11 against the original $19.40/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 32.11%.

One more investment quote to leave you with:
“All the opportunity in the world means nothing if you don’t actually pull the trigger.” — Sam Zell