If I'd invested $5,000 in Whitehaven shares 3 years ago, guess how much I'd have now

The ASX 200 coal stock has seen its share price soar and paid out some hefty dividends in recent years.

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A female coal miner wearing a white hardhat and orange high-vis vest holds a lump of coal and smiles as the Whitehaven Coal share price rises today

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Whitehaven Coal Ltd (ASX: WHC) shares have been among the top performers on the ASX over the past three years.

The company's high-quality coal mines and management deserve plenty of credit for that accomplishment.

And, of course, the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) coal stock was also a major beneficiary of soaring coal prices from early 2021 through to mid-2022.

Despite coming well down from the all-time highs recorded last year, the coal price remains elevated by historic standards.

With that background in mind, how much would I have today if I'd invested $5,000 in Whitehaven shares three years ago.

How much have Whitehaven shares gained over three years?

If I could just get my time machine working, I could snap up Whitehaven shares for 89 cents apiece near market close on 18 September 2020.

That means I could have bought 5,617 shares with my $5,000, with a bit of pocket change left over.

From there, I would have watched those shares march higher towards all-time closing highs of $10.96 in October 2022, when thermal coal was still trading near its own record highs.

While the past 11 months have seen the stock retrace, I wouldn't be fussed, having bought in at an opportune time and knowing the stock might well run hot again over the coming years.

Today, Whitehaven shares are trading for $6.66 apiece.

That means my 5,617 shares, bought for $5,000, would be worth $37,409.22 today.

But wait.

There's more!

Don't forget the dividends

As profits soared, Whitehaven shares also delivered some outsized dividends over the past two years, drawing the interest of passive income investors.

While the ASX 200 coal miner didn't pay any dividends in 2021, it paid both an interim and a final dividend in 2022 and in 2023. The first one was unfranked; the past three have been fully franked.

All told, those four dividend payouts total $1.22 per share.

Crunching the numbers then, my 5,617 Whitehaven shares will have garnered me an additional $6,852.74 in passive income. Now, we'll assume I spent that and opted not to reinvest in this case.

Adding those dividends back into the share price gains and my $5,000 investment three years ago would have returned a whopping $44,261.96.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to have another tinker with that time machine.

Motley Fool contributor Bernd Struben has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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