Defensive dividend sectors such as consumer staples and, in particular, utilities have taken their lumps over the past few weeks. Investors are left wondering if it is a case of rising interest rates, the great cyclical rotation, or both that are damaging previously stalwart ETFs such as the Utilities Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLU).
Neither scenario means dividend stocks are completely out of style. Those looking to take advantage of a possible cyclical sector rotation while capturing dividends have a unique option in the form of the First Trust NASDAQ Technology Dividend (NasdaqGS: TDIV). At the sector level, income investors have become accustomed to consumer staples, health care and utilities ETFs. So TDIV may not be your grandfather’s dividend sector ETF, but that’s OK. [Dividends And Growth In A Sector ETF]
More tech firms are paying dividends. For example, EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) on Thursday announced a new quarterly dividends of 10 cents a share.
TDIV is still a new ETF, having debuted in August 2012, but the fund’s rookie status does not diminish some impressive statistics. Not only has TDIV raked in $120.4 million in assets under management since its debut, but it has also outperformed the Technology Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLK) by a comfortable margin this year.
TDIV, which has an annual expense ratio of 0.5%, attempts to reflect the performance of the NASDAQ Technology Dividend Index. That index uses a modified market capitalization weighting methodology and the result is an almost 80-stock lineup with a 12.3% weight to telecommunications names. That includes familiar names such as Dow components Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and AT&T (NYSE: T), but after the telecommunications weight, TDIV is a pure play tech ETF. [First Trust Launches A Pair Of Dividend ETFs]
Still, tech stocks and dividends are not always paired in the same sentences by income investors. Unless those investors are saying “Tech stocks usually do not pay good dividends.” Indicating that TDIV is one ETF that could be benefit from being at the right place at the right time, tech is the fastest-growing dividend sector in the U.S.
ETF investors looking to get in on tech dividend growth need to consider funds beyond some of the largest, most popular dividend ETFs. Those funds screen and weigh potential constituents by length of dividend increase streaks. Since dividends and tech is a relatively new phenomenon, many tech stocks that are not International Business Machines (NYSE: IBM) are excluded from some of the larger dividend ETFs. [Quality ETF For A Bumpy Ride]
Conventional wisdom holds that tech companies that become dividend payers are telling investors they have nothing better to do with their cash. However, large cash hoards and rising dividends are nice problems to have. Those traits have made dividend payers out of the likes of Microsoft (NasdaqGS: MSFT), Intel (NasdaqGS: INTC), Cisco (NasdaqGS: CSCO) and Apple (NasdaqGS: AAPL).
Along with IBM, those stocks combine for about 41 percent of TDIV’s weight. No ETF is perfect, but TDIV offers better compensation than XLK’s 1.75% yield and a safe place to be if the market continues to lose affection for low-beta sector ETFs.
First Trust NASDAQ Dividend Technology Index ETF
ETF Trends editorial team contributed to this article.
Full disclosure: Tom Lydon’s clients own shares of AAPL, CSCO and AAPL.