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

— 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 twenty year holding period. Suppose such a “buy-and-hold” investor had looked into buying shares of Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) back in 2004. Let’s take a look at how such an investment would have worked out for that buy-and-hold investor:

Start date: 05/03/2004


End date: 04/30/2024
Start price/share: $54.93
End price/share: $144.59
Starting shares: 182.05
Ending shares: 318.74
Dividends reinvested/share: $56.26
Total return: 360.86%
Average annual return: 7.94%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $46,113.71

The above analysis shows the twenty year investment result worked out well, with an annualized rate of return of 7.94%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $46,113.71 today (as of 04/30/2024). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 360.86% (something to think about: how might JNJ shares perform over the next 20 years?). [These numbers were computed with the Dividend Channel DRIP Returns Calculator.]

Notice that Johnson & Johnson paid investors a total of $56.26/share in dividends over the 20 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 4.96/share, we calculate that JNJ has a current yield of approximately 3.43%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 4.96 against the original $54.93/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 6.24%.

One more piece of investment wisdom to leave you with:
“The individual investor should act consistently as an investor and not as a speculator.” — Benjamin Graham