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“I buy on the assumption that they could close the market the next day and not reopen it for five years.”

— 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 five year holding period. Suppose such a “buy-and-hold” investor had looked into buying shares of Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY) back in 2019. Let’s take a look at how such an investment would have worked out for that buy-and-hold investor:

Start date: 04/03/2019


End date: 04/02/2024
Start price/share: $127.05
End price/share: $763.96
Starting shares: 78.71
Ending shares: 85.02
Dividends reinvested/share: $18.04
Total return: 549.50%
Average annual return: 45.35%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $64,941.18

As shown above, the five year investment result worked out exceptionally well, with an annualized rate of return of 45.35%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 5 years ago into $64,941.18 today (as of 04/02/2024). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 549.50% (something to think about: how might LLY shares perform over the next 5 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that Eli Lilly paid investors a total of $18.04/share in dividends over the 5 holding period, marking a second component of the total return beyond share price change alone. Much like watering a tree, reinvesting dividends can help an investment to grow over time — for the above calculations we assume dividend reinvestment (and for this exercise the closing price on ex-date is used for the reinvestment of a given dividend).

Based upon the most recent annualized dividend rate of 5.2/share, we calculate that LLY has a current yield of approximately 0.68%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 5.2 against the original $127.05/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 0.54%.

One more investment quote to leave you with:
“As time goes on, I get more and more convinced that the right method of investment is to put fairly large sums into enterprises which one thinks one knows something about and in the management of which one thoroughly believes.” — John Maynard Keynes