high-dividend ETF

A High-Dividend ETF Lets You Invest in Today's Top-Yielding Stocks

high-dividend ETFA high-dividend ETF is an exchange-traded fund that lets investors own a handful of dividend stocks with good yields.

"Good" yields are about 2.5% or higher. Right now the average dividend yield for stocks in the S&P 500 is 1.97% - up from 1.95% at the same time a year ago.

There are more dividend stocks to choose from than ever before. Currently, 421 companies in the S&P 500 Index pay a dividend. Some 185 of them have hiked payouts every year for the last five.

S&P Dow Jones Indices estimates S&P 500 companies returned a record $242 billion to shareholders in the first three months of 2015 via buybacks and dividends (final Q1 numbers come out in a few weeks).

The previous high dividend payout of $233 billion was logged eight years ago in Q2 2007.

Dividend payouts are trending higher because investors have become accustomed to them and will keep demanding them, said Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

A high-dividend ETF lets investors take advantage of multiple companies' increased payouts with one investment. The yield on a high-dividend ETF is typically greater than the S&P 500's overall less than 2% yield and the Dow's 2.3% yield.

Plus, a high-dividend ETF offers a tax advantage. Because they track an index, most have very little buying/selling activity. Thus they amass far fewer capital gains than an actively managed mutual fund. Additional ETF and mutual fund comparisons can be found here.

Here are a few high-dividend ETFs to consider.

Buy a High-Dividend ETF to Maximize Yield

High-Yield Dividend ETF No. 1: The Vanguard High Dividend Yield ETF (NYSE Arca: VYM) aims to track the performance of the FTSE High Dividend Yield Index. The index is comprised of common stocks of companies that pay dividends that are generally higher than average.

Top 10 holdings include Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM), Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE), JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM), Procter & Gamble Co. (NYSE: PG), Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX), Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE), and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ).

The fund's expense ratio is just 0.10%. That's 91% lower than the average expense ratio of funds with similar holdings.

VYM's most recent quarterly distribution was $0.46 per share. Its current yield is 2.82%. Shares are up 1.4% in 2015.

High-Yield Dividend ETF No. 2: The iShares International Select Dividend ETF (NYSE Arca: IDV) seeks to track investment results of the Dow Jones EPAC Select Dividend Index. The index is composed of relatively high-dividend-paying stocks in developed countries other than the United States.

Many European markets have outpaced the United States this year. The EURO STOXX 50 Index, Europe's leading blue-chip index for the Eurozone, is up about 14% year to date. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, meanwhile, is up just 1.43%.

IDV's top 10 holdings include Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA), Woodside Petroleum Ltd. (ASX: WPL), Royal Dutch Shell Plc. (LON: RDSA), AstraZeneca Plc. (LON: AZN), Eni SpA (BIT: ENI), Wesfarmers Ltd. (ASX: WES), National Austria Bank Ltd. (ASX: NAB), British American Tobacco Plc. (LON: BATS), and Westpac Banking Corp. (ASX: WBC).

IDV is up 2.17% in 2015. It has a yield of 5.06%.

High-Yield Dividend ETF No. 3: The Global X SuperDividend ETF (NYSE Arca: SDIV) aims for results that mirror the Solactive Global SuperDividend Index. The index tracks the performance of companies ranking among the highest-yielding dividend stocks in the world.

Launched June 8, 2011, the fund offers yield plus diversified global and emerging market exposure across all sectors.

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Top 10 holdings include Evergrande Real Estate (OTCMKTS: EGRNF), Surge Energy Inc. (OTCMKTS: ZPTAF),  First Bank of Nigeria Plc., Telefonica Brazil SA (NYSE ADR: VIV), Veresen Inc., Parkland Fuel Corp. (OTCMKTS: PKIUF), Southern Cross Media Group Ltd. (OTCMKTS: SOUTF), Delek Automotive Systems Ltd. (TLV: DLEA), ELISA Corp. (OTCMKTS: ELMUF), and Dream Global Real Estate Investment Trust (OTCMKTS: DUNDF).

SDIV's yield is 6.26%.

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