3 high-yield ETFs for big dividends, lower risk

Chasing strong returns in single stocks can often go awry. Spread out your risk using exchange-traded funds instead.

By InvestorPlace Jan 25, 2013 4:30PM

Stock market report copyright Don Carstens, JupiterimagesBy Jeff Reeves

iplogoThe hunger for dividend stocks and high-yield investment continues. But unfortunately, many investors shoot themselves in the foot by seeking out big dividends without understanding the risks.

Take RadioShack (RSH). The struggling electronics retailer is clearly circling the drain, but last summer boasted a 12% dividend yield if you annualized 12.5 cents on a share price just north of $4. Unfortunately, it eliminated its dividend, and shares have now fallen over 40% to boot.

Chasing yield this way is dangerous. But a simple alternative can give you exposure to a basket of high-income equity investments like this and mitigate your risk.

Those plays are high-dividend exchange-traded funds that include the Market Vectors Preferred Securities ex Financials ETF (PFXF), the PowerShares High Dividend Yield Financial Portfolio ETF (KBWD) and the Global X SuperDividend ETF (SDIV). None of these are junk bond funds, mind you, and all have high-dividend equities behind them. But be careful, do your research and trade carefully because they are on the small side when it comes to volume and assets under management.

Market Vectors Preferred Securities ex Financials (Yield: 6.1%)

The Market Vectors Preferred Securities ex Financials ETF is a mouthful, but the bottom line is that it deals in preferred stocks in all corners of the market, save banking. It actually is an indexed fund, benchmarked to the Wells Fargo Hybrid and Preferred Securities ex Financials Index -- that means a low expense ratio of just 0.4%. PFXF is a good way to get yield but reduce your exposure to banks if you are worried the sector is not out of the woods yet. Top holdings include preferred positions at automaker General Motors (GM), aerospace and defense giant United Technologies (UTX) and utility PPL Corp. (PPL). Read more about PFXF here on the official fund website.

PowerShares High Dividend Yield Financial (Yield: 8.2%)

On the other side of the coin is the PowerShares High Dividend Yield Financial Portfolio ETF. This fund focuses solely on the financial sector and banks -- but KBWD's holdings these days are mainly mREITs or other related plays in the mortgage financing business. Top positions include American Capital Agency (AGNC), BGC Partners (BGCP) and Annaly Capital Management (NLY). This fund is a bit pricey with a 1.32% expense ratio, but the yield might make that worth your while. 

Global X SuperDividend (Yield: 7.7%)

The Global X SuperDividend ETF is another equity-focused fund with high-yield dividend stocks as its components. But some of the picks are pretty obscure. Right now, top holdings for SDIV include KGHM POLSKA (KGHPF), a Polish copper company, and education services provider Navitas (NVTZF). But a 7.7% yield is worth exploring. Read more about SDIV here on the official fund website.

Related reading

Jeff Reeves is the editor of InvestorPlace.com and the author of "The Frugal Investor's Guide to Finding Great Stocks." Write him at editor@investorplace.com or follow him on Twitter via @JeffReevesIP. As of this writing, he did not own a position in any of the stocks named here.

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