It was a rough year for investors in a number of multi-country emerging markets exchange traded funds. Slack 2013 performances by some the largest emerging markets ETFs has prompted some optimism about what the new year may have in store for these battered funds.

Investors can get some compensation for betting on an emerging markets rebound in the form of dividend ETFs that are also dedicated plays on developing markets. Examining emerging markets dividend yields can prove to be an especially fruitful exercise following a year in which those yields are elevated.

Research published by WisdomTree in 2013 shows that the average gain for the MSCI Emerging Markets Index was about 17.5%, but following high dividend years that number jumped to 33%. During years in which emerging markets appeared pricy, the return dropped to an average of 1.9%, but most developing markets are currently viewed as inexpensive.

The $4.6 billion WisdomTree Emerging Markets Equity Income Fund (NYSEArca: DEM) is one of the most popular emerging markets dividend ETF options and the fund finished 2013 with a 30-day SEC yield of 3.7%, which tilts toward the high side. Some strategists see upside for the fund in 2014.

“Dividend-paying emerging markets are: 1) An incredible value with P/E ratios in single digits; 2) Starting to trend up. These equities seem to have bottomed in the summer of 2013; 3) Sensitive to institutional buying. If this is the beginning of an upward trend and institutions begin buying these relatively small emerging markets, the upside potential is incredible; 4) The best risk-adjusted returns. Dividend-paying emerging market equities have the potential to provide the best upside returns and the dividends also provide a buffer on the downside risk,” said Vern Sumnicht of Sumnicht & Associates in an interview with Investor’s Business Daily