The PowerShares QQQ (NasdaqGM: QQQ), the Nasdaq 100 tracking ETF, celebrated its 15th anniversary Monday and like any teenager, QQQ is going through some changes. But unlike a human teenager, QQQ is changing without drama and is not causing its parents any consternation.

QQQ’s “parents” being PowerShares and NASDAQ OMX (NasdaqGS: OMX). QQQ is home to $45.2 billion in assets under management, making it the fourth-largest ETF in the world, enough to make any parent proud, and today the NASDAQ-100 is one of the most widely tracked benchmarks in the world.

While QQQ resides nearly 33% from its all-time, which was set nearly 14 years ago to the day, the ETF has nearly tripled over the past five years, asserting its status as one of the premier avenues for accessing U.S.-listed large-cap growth stocks. [Nasdaq 5,000: It Can Happen]

It is, however, the evolution of QQQ and the NASDAQ-100 that is interesting in the moment and arguably bodes well for the ETF’s long-term prospects. Predictably, QQQ was ravaged by the effects of the technology bubble bursting. Not surprising when considering the NASDAQ-100’s weight to tech stocks was almost 59% at the end of 1999, according to data from NASDAQ OMX Global Indexes.

Back then, the index had a P/E ratio of 33.9. Today, the index’s exposure to tech has fallen to 46.8% and it sports a P/E of 22.6%. Health care exposure has more than doubled to 13% today from around 6% in 1999, another example of the NASDAQ-100’s evolution.  [Changing Nasdaq Evolves for the Better]

There is more regarding the changes QQQ and the NASDAQ-100 have been experiencing.

“Today, QQQ is more diversified  with larger companies with more dividends and buybacks,” said John Jacobs, executive vice president and head of NASDAQ OMX’s index and data business, in an interview with ETF Trends.

With QQQ and the NASDAQ-100 today, “investors can get more shareholder return with bigger companies in an index that can weather more cycles,” added Jacobs.

While QQQ’s trailing 12-month yield of 1.49% does not scream “dividend destination,” that is up about 60 basis points from the height of the tech bubble. More importantly, the technology sector has become integral part of the overall U.S. dividend growth story in recent years. Six of QQQ’s top-10 holdings pay dividends. In dollar terms, only Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM) is a larger dividend payer than Apple (NasdaqGS: AAPL), QQQ’s largest holding. [Tech ETFs Becoming Dividend Darlings]

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