One of the primary advantages of including ex-U.S. developed market dividend payers in an income portfolio is that many of those stocks sport higher yields than their U.S. counterparts.
That is true of French equities as well. For example, the iShares MSCI France ETF (NYSEArca: EWQ), the lone dedicated France ETF, has a trailing 12-month yield of 3.33% compared to just about 1.9% on the S&P 500. Along with Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan and the U.K., France is one of the developed markets where the dividend yield is higher than the yield on benchmark 10-year government bonds.
Pharmaceuticals giant and Warren Buffett holding Sanofi (NYSE: SNY) yields 3.3% while Total (NYSE: TOT), France’s third-largest oil company, yields 5.1%. Dow components Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) and Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM) yield 2.7% and 3.1%, respectively. Sanofi and Total combine for nearly 18% of EWQ’s weight. [A Surprising ETF With Oil Problems]
“Does buying individual French stocks make sense? Well, it certainly could. If you’re bullish on energy stocks, as I am, then Total is certainly a strong contender. But the better option might be to simply buy EWQ and get an entire basket of French stocks. Using data from Research Affiliates, French stocks are priced to deliver vastly superior returns over the next decade. French stocks are priced to deliver real returns of 5.1% per year compared to just 0.4% per year in American stocks. It’s worth noting that French stocks are priced well below their median CAPE valuations and are priced at about half of American valuations,” according to Charles Sizemore.
As Sizemore notes, French stocks are inexpensive relative to their U.S. counterparts. France’s CAPE, or cyclically-adjusted P/E ratio is just 13.8 compared to 27.1 for the U.S.
EWQ can be a source a dividend growth. European dividends are growing again and French stocks are among the top-yielding plays within the blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 Index.