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“When we own portions of outstanding businesses with outstanding managements, our favorite holding period is forever.”

— Warren Buffett

A critical pearl of wisdom from Warren Buffett teaches us that with any potential stock investment we may make, as soon as our buy order is filled we will have a choice: to remain a co-owner of that company for the long haul, or to react to the inevitable short-term ups and downs that the stock market is famous for (sometimes sharp ups and downs).

The reality of this choice forces us to challenge our confidence in any given company we might invest into, and keep our eyes on the long-term time horizon. The market may go up and down the interim, but over a twenty year holding period, will the investment succeed?

Back in 2004, investors may have been asking themselves that very question about Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT). Let’s examine what would have happened over a twenty year holding period, had you invested in ABT shares back in 2004 and held on.

Start date: 06/07/2004


End date: 06/04/2024
Start price/share: $20.30
End price/share: $103.43
Starting shares: 492.61
Ending shares: 780.21
Dividends reinvested/share: $21.05
Total return: 706.97%
Average annual return: 11.00%
Starting investment: $10,000.00
Ending investment: $80,669.23

The above analysis shows the twenty year investment result worked out quite well, with an annualized rate of return of 11.00%. This would have turned a $10K investment made 20 years ago into $80,669.23 today (as of 06/04/2024). On a total return basis, that’s a result of 706.97% (something to think about: how might ABT 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, Abbott Laboratories has paid $21.05/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 2.2/share, we calculate that ABT has a current yield of approximately 2.13%. Another interesting datapoint we can examine is ‘yield on cost’ — in other words, we can express the current annualized dividend of 2.2 against the original $20.30/share purchase price. This works out to a yield on cost of 10.49%.

Another great investment quote to think about:
“Behind every stock is a company. Find out what it’s doing.” — Peter Lynch