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Is First Trust STOXX European Select Dividend ETF (FDD) a Strong ETF Right Now?

·4 min read

Launched on 08/27/2007, the First Trust STOXX European Select Dividend ETF (FDD) is a smart beta exchange traded fund offering broad exposure to the European Equity ETFs category of the market.

What Are Smart Beta ETFs?

Products that are based on market cap weighted indexes, which are strategies designed to reflect a specific market segment or the market as a whole, have traditionally dominated the ETF industry.

Because market cap weighted indexes provide a low-cost, convenient, and transparent way of replicating market returns, they work well for investors who believe in market efficiency.

But, there are some investors who would rather invest in smart beta funds; these funds track non-cap weighted strategies, and are a strong option for those who prefer choosing great stocks in order to beat the market.

These indexes attempt to select stocks that have better chances of risk-return performance, based on certain fundamental characteristics or a combination of such characteristics.

While this space offers a number of choices to investors, including simplest equal-weighting, fundamental weighting and volatility/momentum based weighting methodologies, not all these strategies have been able to deliver superior results.

Fund Sponsor & Index

The fund is sponsored by First Trust Advisors. It has amassed assets over $208.27 million, making it one of the larger ETFs in the European Equity ETFs. This particular fund, before fees and expenses, seeks to match the performance of the STOXX Europe Select Dividend 30 Index.

The STOXX Europe Select Dividend 30 Index consists of 30 high dividend-yielding securities selected from the STOXX Europe 600 Index.

Cost & Other Expenses

Since cheaper funds tend to produce better results than more expensive funds, assuming all other factors remain equal, it is important for investors to pay attention to an ETF's expense ratio.

Annual operating expenses for this ETF are 0.58%, making it on par with most peer products in the space.

The fund has a 12-month trailing dividend yield of 6.18%.

Sector Exposure and Top Holdings

While ETFs offer diversified exposure, which minimizes single stock risk, a deep look into a fund's holdings is a valuable exercise. And, most ETFs are very transparent products that disclose their holdings on a daily basis.

When you look at individual holdings, Royal Dutch Shell Plc (class B) (RDSB.LN) accounts for about 6.41% of the fund's total assets, followed by Aegon N.v. (AGN.NA) and Standard Life Aberdeen Plc (SLA.LN).

Its top 10 holdings account for approximately 45.65% of FDD's total assets under management.

Performance and Risk

So far this year, FDD has lost about -27.78%, and is down about -18.74% in the last one year (as of 04/30/2020). During this past 52-week period, the fund has traded between $8.41 and $14.36.

The fund has a beta of 0.96 and standard deviation of 21.08% for the trailing three-year period, which makes FDD a medium risk choice in this particular space. With about 31 holdings, it has more concentrated exposure than peers.


First Trust STOXX European Select Dividend ETF is not a suitable option for investors seeking to outperform the European Equity ETFs segment of the market. Instead, there are other ETFs in the space which investors should consider.

IShares MSCI Eurozone ETF (EZU) tracks MSCI EMU Index and the Vanguard FTSE Europe ETF (VGK) tracks FTSE Developed Europe All Cap Index. IShares MSCI Eurozone ETF has $3.66 billion in assets, Vanguard FTSE Europe ETF has $11.05 billion. EZU has an expense ratio of 0.49% and VGK charges 0.08%.

Investors looking for cheaper and lower-risk options should consider traditional market cap weighted ETFs that aim to match the returns of the European Equity ETFs.

Bottom Line

To learn more about this product and other ETFs, screen for products that match your investment objectives and read articles on latest developments in the ETF investing universe, please visit Zacks ETF Center.

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First Trust STOXX European Select Dividend ETF (FDD): ETF Research Reports
iShares MSCI Eurozone ETF (EZU): ETF Research Reports
Vanguard FTSE Europe ETF (VGK): ETF Research Reports
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