Editor’s note: This story was previously published in March 2019. It has since been updated and republished.
The universe of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) is awash in low-fee products, and the space is growing as issuers reduce their fees to lure investors.
Income-seeking investors do not have to pay up to access high-dividend ETFs. In fact, numerous high-dividend ETFs can be inexpensive, which is an important point for income investors looking to keep more of those dividends and a higher share of their invested capital. High-dividend ETFs are often embraced by long-term investors and over the long-term, lower fees can mean better outcomes for investors.
Over the past several years, data confirm that when it comes to adding new assets, the best ETFs are usually those with annual fees of 0.20% or less. Plenty of high-dividend ETFs fit into that category, making it a cost-effective method for thrifty investors to access broad baskets of dividend stocks.
Here are some high-dividend ETFs, with very low fees, for income-minded investors to consider.
iShares Core High Dividend ETF (HDV)
Expense Ratio: 0.08%, or $8 annually per $10,000 investment
Many high dividend ETFs weight components by yield, a strategy that has some drawbacks. Those disadvantages include vulnerability to rising interest rates and the potential for exposure to financially challenged companies that may have trouble maintaining and growing dividends.
The iShares Core High Dividend ETF (NYSEARCA:HDV) has a 12-month dividend yield of 3.23%, which is well above the S&P 500 and 10-year Treasuries. However, this high-dividend ETF follows the Morningstar Dividend Yield Focus Index, which screens companies for financial health, giving the fund a quality look.
With an annual fee of just 0.08%, HDV is one of the cheaper high dividend ETFs on the market today. That low fee coupled with its sector allocations make HDV ideal for conservative investors. The healthcare, consumer staples, telecom and utilities sectors, four of HDV’s top five sector weights, can all be considered defensive groups.
SPDR Portfolio S&P 500 High Dividend ETF (SPYD)
Expense Ratio: 0.07%
The SPDR Portfolio S&P 500 High Dividend ETF (NYSEARCA:SPYD) is one of the least expensive dividend ETFs on the market, high dividend or otherwise. The ETF tracks the S&P 500 High Dividend Index, the high-dividend offshoot of the traditional S&P 500.
SPYD’s yield requirement gives this high-dividend ETF a focused roster of just 80 stocks, but the 12-month dividend yield of 4.5% makes this high-dividend ETF appealing for income investors relative to standard broad market funds.
SPYD relies heavily on high-income sectors that have shown historical vulnerability to rising interest rates. The real estate and utilities sectors combine for almost 35% of this high dividend ETF’s weight.
Invesco Dow Jones Industrial Average Dividend ETF (DJD)
Expense Ratio: 0.7%
The Invesco Dow Jones Industrial Average Dividend ETF (NYSEARCA:DJD) is a yield-weighted approach to the venerable Dow Jones Industrial Average. What this high-dividend ETF does is weigh the 30 Dow stocks by their trailing 12-month dividend, not price, as the traditional Dow does.
DJD’s yield focus makes IBM(NYSE:IBM) the high dividend ETF’s largest holding. DJD’s largest sector weight is technology, and the fund devotes just 11.67% to industrials.
While DJD appears to be a high-dividend ETF, the fund offers significant dividend growth potential because many of the Dow’s 30 member firms have payout-increase streaks that can be measured in decades.
Invesco S&P 500 Quality ETF (SPHQ)
Expense Ratio: 0.16%
With a distribution rate of just 1.6%, the Invesco S&P 500 Quality ETF (NYSEARCA:SPHQ) does not scream “high dividend ETF.” SPHQ’s underlying index, the S&P 500 Quality Index, does not even emphasize dividends.
Rather, that benchmark focuses on firms “that have the highest quality score, which is calculated based on three fundamental measures, return on equity, accruals ratio and financial leverage ratio,” according to Invesco. While SPHQ is not explicitly a high -dividend fund, reliable, growing dividends are often a hallmark of companies meeting the standards of the quality factor.
With a combined weight of nearly 40% to the technology and consumer services sectors, SPHQ has the feel of a growth ETF, but that means this fund also pairs well with more traditional high-dividend ETFs, such as some of the funds highlighted above.
Vanguard High Dividend Yield ETF (VYM)
Expense Ratio: 0.06%
Home to $22.8 billion in total net assets, the Vanguard High Dividend Yield ETF (NYSEARCA:VYM) is one of the largest dividend ETFs of any variety. It is not unreasonable to believe that VYM’s name frames the fund as a high-dividend ETF, but a yield of 3.07% is not alarmingly high.
More importantly, VYM is not overly dependent on rate-sensitive sectors. This high-dividend ETF features no real estate exposure and the bond-esque telecom and utilities sectors combine for just 13.3% of VYM’s weight.
Nearly a quarter of the fund’s holdings hail from the industrial and healthcare sectors. Financials, a sector that has been a major driver of S&P 500 dividend growth over the past year, is this high dividend ETF’s largest sector exposure at 18.6%.
JPMorgan U.S. Dividend ETF (JDIV)
Expense Ratio: 0.12%
The JPMorgan U.S. Dividend ETF (NYSEARCA:JDIV) is one of the youngest funds on this list, having debuted in late 2017, but it fits the bill as a cost-effective, high-dividend ETF.
JDIV “utilizes a rules-based approach that adjusts sector weights based on volatility and yield and selects the highest yielding stocks,” according to the issuer.
With a 12-month yield of 3.56%, JDIV has high-dividend ETF credentials. JDIV’s annual fee of 0.12% is quite low.
Xtrackers MSCI EAFE High Dividend Yield Equity ETF (HDEF)
Expense Ratio: 0.20%
The Xtrackers MSCI EAFE High Dividend Yield Equity ETF (NYSEARCA:HDEF) targets the MSCI EAFE High Dividend Yield Index, a benchmark that is a high-dividend derivative of the widely followed MSCI EAFE Index.
While HDEF is a credible name among international high dividend ETFs, the laggard status of European stocks has hindered HDEF in recent months. On the more positive side of the ledger is ex-U.S. dividend growth and valuation opportunities across developed markets, two traits that speak to long-term opportunity with HDEF.
As of this writing, Todd Shriber did not own any of the aforementioned securities.
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