One of the dangers income investors face when reaching for fat dividends is that too often the higher the yield, the higher the risk. Luckily, they’ve got a friend: the dividend ETF.
Exchange-traded funds are an easy way to mitigate some of that reaching-for-yield risk. After all, diversification is your friend, and ETFs offer one-stop-shopping for scores of stocks. Sure, one name might cut its dividend or see its share-price plunge, but it won’t take the whole dividend ETF — and your portfolio — with it.
Another advantage of dividend ETF investments is that they make it easy for retail investors to buy foreign stocks. You see, some of the best dividend-payers on the planet list only on the over-the-counter market in the U.S — or don’t trade here at all. And income-starved investors need to spread out to see any kind of decent return in this low-rate environment.
Finally, you’ve got to like ETFs for their low fees, transparency and liquidity. There’s something reassuring about knowing that you can get out of position at any time during the trading session.
And if your dividend ETF just so happens to yield 6% or more … so much the better.
With that, here are three ETFs with some of the highest dividend yields on the market:
Global X SuperDividend ETF (SDIV)
Total Assets: $780 million
Global X SuperDividend ETF (SDIV) scours the globe for high-yield dividend stocks, heavily titled toward real estate, financial services, telecommunication firms and utilities.
The REITs in particular help this dividend ETF throw off that gusher of a 7.3% yield, but it hasn’t been too shabby on price performance, either. SDIV is up more than 7% for the year-to-date. Sure, that lags the S&P 500 by a mile, but it absolutely crushes bonds — and we are looking for income here, right?
At the same time, the high yield and international diversification give SDIV some defensive characteristics. For example, a few top holdings include R.R. Donnelley (RRD), Electricité de France (ECIFY) and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare (FSPKF). Those three stocks alone range from the U.S. to France to New Zealand.
SPDR S&P International Dividend ETF (DWX)
Total Assets: $1.4 billion
SPDR S&P International Dividend ETF (DWX) is another ETF that spans the globe scooping up stocks with big payouts, but unlike SDIV, this dividend ETF has no exposure to U.S. equities.
Although the fund keeps distressed companies out of the mix by insisting on three years of earnings growth and profitability, Morningstar cautions that DWX still was one of the most volatile international-equity dividend funds during the past three- and five-year periods. So be forewarned that the generous income stream from DWX might be accompanied by some nauseating price swings.
Still, DWX yields 6.5%, and with fees at 0.45% — or $45 annually on every $10,000 invested — it’s one of the cheapest high-yield dividend ETFs you can buy. Also, like SDIV, the high yield and international diversification add another layer of defense to your total portfolio. Top holdings include Belgacom (BGAOY), AstraZeneca (AZN) and Vivendi (VIVHY).
Guggenheim S&P Global Dividend Opportunities Index ETF (LVL)
Total Assets: $87.2 million
Guggenheim S&P Global Dividend Opportunities Index ETF (LVL) is yet another global dividend ETF, in this case with a roughly 80/20 split between foreign and U.S. equities.
Like other global high-yield dividend ETFs, LVL’s payouts and international diversification help give your total portfolio some defensive characteristics, but do note that this ETF’s assets are relatively small — and the average volume is under 50,000 a day. That increases the odds that you won’t be able to buy or sell very close to the prices you want.
Another knock on LVL is that the expense ratio is much higher than other offerings in the category. Indeed, it’s twice as pricey as DWX.
That said, the yield is very generous, thanks to top holdings like Brazil’s Oi (OIBR), Bezeq Israel Telecommunication Corp. (BZQIY) and Eni (E).
As of this writing, Dan Burrows did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.