Downside protection with dividend ETFs

Investors worried about a market decline should consider these exchange traded funds to weather the storm.

By TheStockAdvisors Aug 28, 2013 9:50AM

Portfolio Account statement © Alamy Creativity, AlamyBy Geoffrey Mrema and Todd Rosenbluth, S&P Capital IQ, The Outlook

For those concerned the market might pull back, one strategy worth considering is to shift money into dividend-focused investments. Here are four dividend ETFs to weather a possible stock market drop.

We believe that when pullbacks happen, dividend stocks fare better than others because their yields provide downside protection.

While there are more than 100 stocks ranked by S&P Capital IQ as "buy" or "strong buy" that offer a 2.5% or greater yield, an ideal way for investors to get diversification to many of these stocks is through exchange traded funds.

We ran a screen of the dividend-focused domestic equity ETFs with an "overweight" ranking from S&P Capital IQ and a 12-month yield over 2.5%.

We excluded those ETFs that were focused on a specific sector like utilities, since sector diversification provides its own benefits.

While S&P Capital IQ does not base ETF recommendations on yield alone, the consistency of dividend payments is a key component to the S&P Capital IQ Quality Ranking, which is a component of the risk considerations portion of our ranking methodology.

Our screen yielded seven results, and we chose the top four in terms of assets.

The SPDR S&P Dividend ETF (SDY) is the largest of the four. It owns companies that have increased dividends every year for at least 20 years. Its portfolio has 83 individual stocks with a median market capitalization of $13 billion.

On a sector basis, the fund's largest exposure is to consumer staples (18% of total assets), followed by financials (17%) and industrials (13%). For the year to date, the fund has attracted $1.3 billion in new cash, with $580 million coming in July according to IndexUniverse.

Vanguard High Dividend Yield Index Fund (VYM) is the second largest fund by assets, with holdings selected by its benchmark based on having the highest yields.

VYM holds 396 stocks that have an average market cap of just $3.1 billion, lower than the three other ETFs we profile. Its largest sector exposures are to consumer staples (17% of assets), followed by energy (13%) and industrials (12%). It has attracted $1.4 billion in inflows so far this year.

The iShares high Dividend ETF (HDV) has holdings that are chosen based on their relatively high yields provided on a consistent basis. It offers the highest overall yield of the four.

Its 77 stocks have a median market cap of $11.2 billion. The largest sector weightings are to health care (21%), consumer staples (18%) and telecom services (14%).

The smallest of the four ETFs is WisdomTree LargeCap Dividend Fund (DLN) which owns the 300 largest U.S. dividend paying companies; their median market capitalization is $20 billion.

It is dividend weighted, to reflect the proportionate share of the aggregate cash dividends of each component company. Its largest sector weightings are in consumer staples (15%), information technology (14%) and financials (13%).

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Aug 28, 2013 1:49PM
Anybody thinking that on days like today with ZER positive news and a Dow gaining 75 points just because Ben wishes it, that ANY stock is worth weathering in? If ALL stock prices are artificially lifted, why would anyone believe ANY will survive the crash? The DUMB OF IT doesn't add up even with Kool Aid sprinkled on it.
What is the yield for each so we don't have to go look ourselves.
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