U.S. Markets closed

Appraising the Largest Dividend ETF

tlydon@globaltrend.com (Tom Lydon)

The expectation for a continued low yield environment and ongoing market volatility has kept the dividend investment theme alive.

Dividend-paying exchange traded funds, such as the Vanguard Dividend Appreciation Index Fund (NYSEArca: VIG ) , are a popular option for investors seeking income, and stability.

VIG is the largest dividend ETF with nearly $11 billion in assets under management.

The strong interest in dividend yielding exchange traded funds has been reinforced by the ongoing market uncertainty due to the Eurozone debt crisis. There are several ETFs that have garnered the most assets, giving investors better liquidity and U.S. large-cap exposure. [ETF Spotlight: VIG]

VIG tracks the performance of the Dividend Achievers Select Index, which consists of U.S. stocks that have long history of raising their dividends.  Every stock in the portfolio must have raised its dividend for a minimum of 10 years in a row. This feature sets this dividend focused fund apart from the rest of the dividend ETF heavies, reports Morningstar. [S&P's Dividend ETF Pick]

Although VIG touts companies that have solid balance sheets, the overall dividend feature is not overwhelmingly impressive. With a yield of 2.17%, current income is not the objective, compared to the S&P 500′s 1.9%.

VIG is an ETF that supports a growth-focused strategy and can give steady results over the long term. VIG also has a low turnover of 14% a year, and an expense ratio of 0.13%, adding to the list of advantages, according to XTF. [VIG Has Biggest Target Stake Among Dividend ETFs]

In comparison, the iShares Dow Jones Select Dividend ETF (DVY - News) is an income focused fund that zeros in on the utilities sector. DVY’s underlying index takes the universe of dividend-paying stocks with a positive dividend-per-share growth rate, a payout ratio of 60% or less, and at least a five year track record of dividend payment and then selects the 100 highest-yielding stocks.

Although this ETF is loaded with high-yielding, reliable dividend payers, DVY has a yield of 3.88% and an expense ratio of 0.40%. It is more expensive than VIG, but the higher yield may pay off.

Vanguard Dividend Appreciation Index Fund

Tisha Guerrero contributed to this article.