Amid heightened uncertainty about the global economy and rising interest rates, investors have become defensive and are seeking safe and stable investments.
Dividend-focused products offer safety in the form of payouts and stability in the form of mature companies that are less volatile to the large swings in stock prices. Dividend-paying securities can be major sources of consistent income for investors when returns from equity markets are at risk. Further, these products have proven outperformers over the long term.
While there are plenty of options in the dividend ETF world, honing in on the ‘dividend aristocrats’ could be the most beneficial way to ride out the current market volatility resulting from geopolitical concerns. Further, the yields on government bonds have fallen to lower levels despite the Fed scaling back its stimulus. The lower yields have compelled investors to look for other cash generating streams.
Why Dividend Aristocrats?
Dividend aristocrats are the blue-chip dividend-paying companies, which have a long history of raising dividend payments year-over-year. These generally act as a hedge against economic uncertainty and provide downside protection by offering outsized payouts or sizable yields on a regular basis. Additionally, aristocrats tend to skew the portfolio to less volatile sectors and mature companies.
Investors should note that the dividend aristocrat funds offer more dividend growth opportunities when compared to other products in the space but might not necessarily have the highest yields.
As a result, these products provide a nice combination of annual dividend growth and capital appreciation opportunity, and are mainly suitable for risk adverse long-term investors. For them, we have highlighted some ETFs that could be excellent choices regardless of stock market directions.
Dividend Aristocrat ETFs for Any Market Conditions: SPDR S&P Dividend ETF (SDY)
SPDR S&P Dividend ETF (NYSEARCA:SDY) is one of the most popular and liquid ETFs in the dividend space with AUM of $16.17 billion and average daily volume of more than 637,000 shares. This fund provides exposure to U.S. stocks that have been consistently increasing their dividends every year for at least 25 consecutive years. This can be done by tracking the S&P High Yield Dividend Aristocrats Index.
The product is widely spread out across a number of securities, as none hold more than 2.1% of total assets. Though the fund is slightly skewed toward the consumer defensive sector with 16.16%, industrials, financial services, consumer cyclical, and utlities make up for a nice mix in the portfolio with mostly double-digit allocations.
The fund charges 35 bps in fees per year and yields 2.29% in 30-day SEC. It has added almost 9.5%% in value so far this year, and has a #3 (Hold) on the Zacks ETF Rank with a Medium risk outlook.
Dividend Aristocrat ETFs for Any Market Conditions: ProShares S&P 500 Aristocrats ETF (NOBL)
ProShares S&P 500 Aristocrats ETF (BATS:NOBL) has amassed an impressive $3.4 billion in its asset base in roughly four years. Its expense ratio is 0.35% while average daily volume rests at around 262,000 shares.
The product provides exposure to the companies that raised dividend payments annually for at least 25 years by tracking the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats.
The fund is widely diversified across various securities, as each account for less than 2.3% a share. From a sector look, the biggest share of its holdings fall into consumer defensive, followed by industrials (20%), healthcare (13.3%), consumer cyclical (10%), and financial services (9.8%).
NOBL is up over 13% year-to-date and has 30-day SEC yield of 2.04%. The fund is a #3 (Hold) on the Zacks ETF Rank with a Medium risk outlook.
Dividend Aristocrat ETFs for Any Market Conditions: Vanguard Dividend Appreciation ETF (VIG)
Vanguard Dividend Appreciation ETF (NYSEARCA:VIG) is the largest ETF in the dividend space with AUM of $25.85 billion and average daily volume of about nearly 685,000 shares. The fund follows the NASDAQ US Dividend Achievers Select Index, which is composed of high quality stocks that have a record of increasing dividends over the past decade. It holds 163 securities in its basket.
Here again, the fund has diverse exposure across securities, with each holding no more than 4.4% of total assets. However, it has a definite tilt toward industrials at 29.7%, while healthcare and consumer defensive round off the top three.
The ETF has an expense ratio of 0.08%, while its 30-day SEC yield comes at 1.94%. The fund has added more than 14% year-to-date and is a #2 (Buy) on the Zacks ETF Rank with a Medium risk outlook.
Dividend Aristocrat ETFs for Any Market Conditions: SPDR S&P Global Dividend ETF (WDIV)
For investors seeking global exposure, SPDR S&P Global Dividend ETF (NYSEARCA:WDIV) seems like an intriguing pick. This fund follows the S&P Global Dividend Aristocrats Index, which measures the performance of the companies that have raised dividends for at least 10 years consecutively. WDIV has amassed $170.97 million in AUM and charges quite a high annual fee of 40 bps. Volume is light at about 13,500 shares a day on average.
Holding 101 stocks, WDIV also provides a nice balance across each component, with none holding more than 2.2% share. Financials and utilities take the top two spots at 24% and 17.8%, while real estate and consumer cyclical make up for the next two spots with 14% and 12.4% shares, respectively.
The fund has gained roughly 10.8% so far this year and is a #3 (Hold) on the Zacks ETF Rank with Low risk outlook. The 30-day SEC yield is higher at 3.74% compared to the other three above-mentioned products.
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