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A Dividend ETF That’s In Trouble


Thanks to the jump in Treasury yields, a rise that has been fueled by speculation the Federal Reserve will soon raise interest rates, some noteworthy dividend exchange traded funds could face intense scrutiny. Count the First Trust Value Line Dividend Index Fund (FVD) among that group.

Once the Federal Reserve hikes interest rates, U.S. dividend stocks and exchange traded funds could experience a meaningful correction after investors piled into the yield-paying assets during the low rate environment. That is particularly true of dividend ETFs with big weights to rate-sensitive utilities and real estate stocks. [Red Flags for Dividend ETFs]

FVD allocates nearly 24% of its weight to the utilities sector, making that the ETF’s largest sector weight. More than any other sector, utilities are negatively correlated to rising interest rates.

FVD follows the Value Line Dividend Index, which equally weights components and utilizes the proprietary Value Line research to select components. Specifically, stocks are ranked by the Value Line Safety Ranking of 1 or 2 out of 5, which are based on price stability and financial strength. Additionally, the index excludes stocks with a dividend yield lower than the S&P 500.

“Overall I like the portfolio that has been created, but the weighting methodology creates the possibility of material changes in the allocation from period to period. There are several companies that were selected by the ETF’s methodology that also meet my definitions for attractive dividend payers, but I’d really like to see the strategy implemented with a lower expense ratio even if that required sacrifices such as less frequent rebalancing of the portfolio,” according to a Seeking Alpha analysis of FVD.

FVD’s utilities and staples exposure is somewhat offset by a combined 30% weight to financial services and industrials names, groups that often perform as Fed policy turns hawkish. Rising Treasury yields and slumping utilities stocks have not been enough to sour investors on FVD.

FVD devotes another 12.4% of its weight to consumer staples stocks, another sector that historically lags when interest rates climb. [Some Investors Stick With Utilities ETFs as Sector Slides]

FVD shows a 0.70% expense ratio, compared to the average 0.58% expense ratio for dividend-yield weighted ETFs and 0.5% expense ratio for the average dividend-weighted ETF, according to XTF data.

First Trust Value Line Dividend Index Fund


The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.