ETF Trends
ETF Trends

These might be golden days for dividend ETFs. Not only are established dividend funds growing assets at an impressive clip, but the number of dividend ETFs has grown noticeably this year. That includes funds offering investors exposure to dividend-paying companies based outside of the U.S.

One of the rookie entrants to global dividend ETF arena is the FlexShares International Quality Dividend Index Fund (NYSEArca: IQDF). IQDF debuted in mid-April as part of a three-fund international dividend suite from FlexShares. That trio of ETFs serve as the international complements to three U.S.-focused payout funds introduced by FlexShares in December 2012. [FlexShares Launches Three Global Dividend ETFs]

The FlexShares International Quality Dividend Dynamic Index Fund (NYSEArca: IQDY) and the FlexShares International Quality Dividend Defensive Index Fund (NYSEArca: IQDE) debuted on the same day as IQDF.

The funds are part of a new breed of “intelligent,” or “smart”-beta indexing where the indices are based on fundamental factors, such as profitability, solid management and reliable cash flow to, similar to actively managed styles. Consequently, the fundamental indices are designed to outperform the Parent Index on a risk-adjusted basis. IQDF, which tracks the Northern Trust International Large Cap Index, is the largest of three ETFs with $40 million in assets under management.

IQDF’s nearly 230 holdings were selected based on “expected dividend payment and fundamental factors such as profitability, management and reliable cash flow,” according to FlexShares.

In the current market environment of rising U.S. Treasury yields, ex-U.S. developed market dividend ETFs can prove useful to income investors on at least two fronts. First, some international payout funds have not proven as vulnerable as their U.S.-focused peers to rising Treasury yields. IQDF is down less than 2% in the past month even as 10-year yields have jumped. [International Dividend ETFs and Rising Interest Rates]

Second, developed market dividend payers often sport higher yields than their U.S. counterparts in the same sectors, an important consideration for income investors at a time when Treasury yields are well above the yields on U.S. dividend ETFs. IQDF has a 30-day SEC yield of 5.15% and a weighted average dividend yield of 5.22%. Both numbers imply a yield that is at least 240 basis points above the current 10-year Treasury yield.

At the country level, IQDF is similar to established ETFs that focus on developed markets in Europe, Australia, Asia and the Far East (EAFE) as the U.K., Japan and Australia combine for about 37.6% of the fund’s weight. However, IQDF does offer some leverage to a continued rebound in Eurozone equity markets as the region’s four largest economies – Germany, France, Italy and Spain – are all found among the ETF’s top-10 country weights.

IQDF is not an explicit large-cap ETF. Large-caps account for 55% of the funds weight, but mid-caps occupy a solid 33.4% presence. The new ETF charges 0.47% per year, which is competitive with more established international dividend ETFs.

FlexShares International Quality Dividend Index Fund

ETF Trends editorial team contributed to this post.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.