Diversification is one of the key elements of a successful long-term investment strategy. While investors are becoming keener to investing outside the U.S., there has not been much focus on generating income from companies overseas. One of the wonders of ETFs is the broad exposure they can offer to the retail investor.
The number of ETFs that concentrate on international investing is at the point that most investors are unable to wrap their heads around it. When that pool of ETFs is narrowed down to ETFs that also pay above-average dividends there is still some work to do.
I have combed through a fairly long list of international dividend ETFs and come up with a few that I thought were worth further consideration.
WisdomTree International Dividend ex-Financials ETF (DOO) is a play on dividend paying stocks in Europe and abroad without the exposure to the financial stocks. Many of the financial stocks in Europe pay hefty dividends after falling dramatically in stock price over the last few years, but even without them included the ETF yields 3.9% annually. The ETF has a diverse sector allocation with utilities, industrials, and consumer staples at the top of the list. Europe makes up approximately 70% of the ETF with Australia and Japan making up 23%. If financials are a concern, DOO would be the best option for a diverse dividend ETF.
EG Shares Low Volatility Emerging Markets Dividend ETF (HILO) attempts to identify 30 emerging market stocks that have a low beta as well as an above-average dividend yield. The stocks are concentrated in the financial, consumer goods, telecom, industrials, and energy sectors. South Africa makes up 21% of the portfolio, followed by Turkey, China, and Malaysia. The combination of a 5.1% dividend yield and the lower than average volatility seem to be the best of both worlds. However, keep in mind that the ETF can still be volatile on a short-term basis it is composed of only 30 emerging market stocks.
WisdomTree Commodity Currency Equity ETF (CCXE) is an ETF that concentrates on dividend-paying stocks that are from what WisdomTree considers "commodity countries". There are a total of eight countries represented in the ETF ranging from 15% to 11% weighting. The countries include New Zealand, Norway, Australia, Russia, Chile, Brazil, Canada, and South Africa. The sectors with the highest concentration are the financials, energy, telecom, and materials. The ETF is diverse with over 130 different stocks making up the portfolio. The current dividend yield is 3.1%.
Ishares Asia/Pacific Dividend ETF (DVYA) measures the performance of a basket of high yielding stocks based in five countries: Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Singapore. With 46% of the portfolio invested in Australia it is crucial that an investor believes in the Australian investment story. About half of the ETF is made up of stocks in the financial and telecom sectors with the Telecom Corp of New Zealand (NZTCF.OB) the top holding. The current yield on the ETF is 4.9%.
The four ETFs mentioned above and others in the international dividend arena are not the area to park all your money, but they could be used to diversify a portfolio. Not only will they give investors exposure to areas that are otherwise often underweighted, it will also add above-average income to a portfolio. In most situations this type of ETF will be most beneficial in a tax-deferred account.