If there’s one word to describe the current market environment, it would have to be uncertainty. Rising inflation pressures, geopolitical issues, and lower economic growth have all started to increase volatility and drive uncertainty. For investors, that’s a big deal. But there is one way to fight back the turning tide.
That would be a dose of dividends.
Stocks that pay dividends have been less volatile than their non-dividend paying counterparts- just over 1% less volatile according to Merrill Lynch. Better still, this lower volatility has allowed dividend stocks to perform better than the broader market– by about 4% annually since the 1990s. With that in mind, dividends could be a powerful tool to fight the current pressures.
|DGRO||iShares Core Dividend Growth ETF||$50.83|
|VYM||Vanguard High Dividend Yield Index Fund||$110.55|
|DES||WisdomTree U.S. SmallCap Dividend Fund||$30.38|
|DWX||SPDR S&P International Dividend ETF||$37.43|
|PFF||iShares Preferred and Income Securities ETF||$34.25|
|XLRE||The Real Estate Select Sector SPDR Fund||$43.59|
|SPHD||Invesco S&P 500 High Dividend Low Volatility ETF||$47.59|
iShares Core Dividend Growth ETF (DGRO)
When it comes to dividends, investors tend to focus on the yield. But a high headline yield isn’t everything. In fact, those stocks with slightly lower yields that consistently raise them every year have been the real champions when it comes to performance. The reason? Dividend increases tend to be in excess of inflationary rates. As such, dividend growth is where the real money can be made.
The iShares Core Dividend Growth ETF (NYSE:DGRO) is a great place to find that strength.
As the name suggests, the ETF tracks an index of U.S. stocks that have grown their payouts year in and year out. The kicker for the ETF is that it also screens for measures of sustainability of dividend. This means firms with poor cash flows or other shaky financial metrics get kicked out of the index. What investors are left with are 418 large- and mid-cap stocks who are some of the strongest dividend growers around. Top holdings in DGRO include Home Depot (NYSE:HD) and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL).
The results for the ETF have been wonderful as well. Since its inception in 2014 and through the end of April, DGRO has managed to produce a 11.91% annual return. That return has come with less volatility and a growing 2.13% 30 Day SEC Yield.
With rock-bottom expenses of 0.08%- or just $8 per $10,000 invested- DGRO makes a perfect choice for investors looking to add the power of dividend ETFs to their portfolios.
Vanguard High Dividend Yield Index Fund (VYM)
But what if you just want a high headline yield? After all, we still have to pay our mortgages and go grocery shopping. That requires steady income. And these days, it requires more of it. This is where the Vanguard High Dividend Yield Index Fund (NYSE:VYM) comes into play.
VYM does focus on a big yield — via the FTSE High Dividend Yield Index — and currently pays nearly 3%. However, investors shouldn’t be too concerned. The ETF isn’t filled with risky stocks with super high yields. The kind referred to as “dividend traps.” VYM’s index is based on forecasted high dividends — this implies that various screens are added to make sure the firm’s keep paying those dividends. As a result, stocks that fail to meet the screens of the index are kicked out or not included. What investors are left with is a basket of high yielding blue-chips.
As expected, the ETF leans towards more “boring” segments of the market — with financials, consumer staples, and industrials being the top sectors in the fund. There’s nothing wrong with that given its focus of a high-yield, but investors need to understand that VYM won’t be a capital appreciation engine like other ETFs.
But for those investors looking for more income right now, you can’t go wrong with the fund. It’s low 0.06% in expenses help drive home the investment thesis.
WisdomTree U.S. SmallCap Dividend Fund (DES)
When it comes to dividends, most investors think big. The idea is that larger firms are the only stocks that have the ability to pay dividends. As a result, small-caps are regulated to the growth bin. But that misnomer can be costing investors some really good income. The truth is, there are plenty of small-cap stocks that pay dividends and have the fiscal responsibility to do so.
The WisdomTree U.S. SmallCap Dividend Fund (NYSE:DES) is still the best way to do just that.
WisdomTree cut its teeth on being on the first firms to offer fundamentally weighted indexes — better known as smart-beta. DES is no different and tracks a proprietary index that weights small-caps based on the aggregate cash dividends each stock is projected to pay over the next year. Top holdings include stocks like utility South Jersey Industries (NYSE:SJI) and tobacco stock Vector Group (NYSE:VGR). All in all, you’re looking more than 670 different dividend small-caps — many of which, you’ve probably never heard of.
And that’s just the point. With DES, you have quick access to an opportunity set most investors completely ignore. With strong long-term returns, a high 2.99% monthly paid yield, and a low 0.38% expense ratio, the WisdomTree U.S. SmallCap Dividend Fund is a great addition to any income portfolio.
SPDR S&P International Dividend ETF (DWX)
If U.S. investors are woefully underweighting the opportunity in small-cap dividends, then they are completely blind to the dividend potential of international stocks. That’s a shame as these dividends can be a powerful tool for fighting inflation and gaining extra yield. The reason is how many foreign stocks pay their dividends in the first place.
Rather than do a set amount each quarter, many international stocks pay semi-annually as a percentage of profits each year. That flexibility allows for them to hand out more cash during boom years and save funds during busts. Moreover, international stocks tend to have a more dividend friendly culture. Thanks to major family and state-based ownership structures, dividends are a preferred way to extract profits from a business rather than sell off shares. The end result tends to be higher, yet variable yields.
The $600 million SPDR S&P International Dividend ETF (NYSE:DWX) is still one of the best ETFs to purely tap into the opportunity. DWX tracks the 100 highest dividend-yielding common stocks and American depositary receipts
(ADRs) in the developed world outside of the United States. Canada, Switzerland and Japan round out the top three country holdings. Access to…
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