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Dividend ETFs: Look Before You Leap


Considering the paltry yields in U.S. Treasury bonds and money market funds, investors have turned to dividend-producing stocks and exchange traded funds to help generate some extra cash. However, like with any investment product, investors should take a moment to look over what they are getting themselves into, and the potential risks.

Different dividend-focused ETFs follow different strategies and portfolio construction methodologies.

For instance, the Vanguard Dividend Appreciation ETF (VIG) tracks companies that have increased dividends for at least ten consecutive years, offering access to steady and stable firms; however, the fund does not provide access to high yielding stocks as they are riskier in nature. Consequently, VIG only has a 2.27% 30-day SEC yield. In comparison, the S&P 500 yields 2.11%. [An ETF That Tracks Quality Dividend Stocks]

Dan Caplinger for DailyFinance questions the ETFs growing focus on yield generation. For example, he highlights the new First Trust Nasdaq Technology Dividend Index Fund (TDIV) and the low yield barrier for entry – the ETF includes companies with dividend yields of under 1%.

James Bianco, president of Bianco Research, at the The Big Picture blog emphasizes that dividend stocks should be viewed as a slightly less risky form of stock investing.

“As such, we should expect dividend-paying stocks to outperform during bear markets and underperform during bull markets,” Bianco wrote.

While dividend stocks may have outperformed the overall markets earlier this year, dividend payers began to underperform after the April 2, 2012 peak. [Slow and Steady: Investors Favoring Dividend, Low-Volatility ETFs]

“We believe this is due to there being no real sense of direction in the stock market,” Bianco added. “If the bull market continues, we can expect to see equal weight index outperform dividend-paying stocks.”

For more information on dividend funds, visit our dividend ETFs category.

Max Chen contributed to this article.

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.