There are roughly 100 dividend-oriented exchange-traded products (funds and notes) available to clients now and more are coming. The reason is simple: In a low yield world, dividends are a popular way for clients and their advisors to produce income.
Morningstar estimates ETPs that use dividends to either screen or weight portfolios have attracted more than $100 billion in assets in the U.S. over the past decade. Here are some recent additions to the increasingly crowded field:
WidsomTree Japan Dividend Growth Fund (JDG) may sound like something youve heard about before, but the newer fund (started at the end of last month) differs from the same companys Japan Hedged Dividend Growth Fund (JHDG, launched in April) in that it includes exposure to currency changes.
The yen has been weak against the dollar, and if that trend continues, U.S. investors will see diminished returns from JDG. If the yen strengthens against the dollar, JDG should do better than a hedged portfolio of Japanese stocks. Of course, investors in JHDG are counting on that hedging to work as advertised. The funds have a policy common to all WisdomTree dividend ETFs: Holdings must pay a dividend, but the growth in their names refers to earnings growth, not necessarily dividend growth.
ProShares has added two funds that require actual growth in dividends to qualify for inclusion. Even better for dividend fans, they track market capitalization segments that have, until now, been ignored by dividend growth ETFs.
The ProShares S&P MidCap 400 Dividend Aristocrats fund (REGL) includes stocks in S&Ps midcap index that have increased dividends annually for at least 15 years. Its worth noting that the large-cap Aristocrats indexes require longer records of increases. REGL recently held 47 stocks.
A second new offering from the company tracks the small-cap dividend space. The ProShares Russell 2000 Dividend Growers fund (SMDV) follows the Russell 2000 Dividend Growth Index and recently held 55 issues. The index on which SMDV is based requires at least 10 years of dividend increases. Both funds came public on February 3, and are too new to have much of a performance record. Even so, Russell has data showing that its small-cap dividend growth index would have outpaced the traditional Russell 2000 over the three-, five-, and 10-year time periods.
In January, QuantShares brought its Hedged Dividend Income Fund (DIVA) to market. DIVAs underlying index consists of long positions in 100 stocks with stable or growing dividends and short positions in up to 200 issues (up to 50% of the value of its long positions) with unstable or low dividends.
While such a strategy could work well, long/short portfolios often underperform in bull markets. Whats more, shorting can be expensive. The fund must borrow the shares to short and pay dividends on those shares, as well as interest and brokerage fees. The estimated cost of shorting: 0.65%, or more than the funds 0.50% management fee. A fee waiver limiting total expenses to 0.99% is in place until October 31.
Late last year, Reality Shares DIVS ETF (DIVY) went public. Despite the abbreviation DIVS in its name, the fund doesnt own equities that pay dividends.
DIVY uses options in a strategy called a jelly roll to isolate the net dividend value of stocks. If dividends increase more than the market expects, the fund profits. Fans of options strategies may like this portfolio, but it isnt suitable for dividend investors.
If your income-seeking clients ask about it, direct them to this line from the prospectus: The Fund does not produce dividend income and is not an appropriate investment if you are seeking dividend income.
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