When investors think of small-cap stocks, the first thoughts usually do not have something to do with dividends. Rarely do investors associate companies with smaller market values as having extensive dividend increase streaks or other solid dividend growth traits.

Recent data indicate income investors should give small-caps and the corresponding exchange traded funds a new look. “From the end of 2013 there has been a 10.2% increase in the number of issues paying a dividend in the S&P SmallCap 600,” according to S&P Dow Jones Indices.

Although it is a play on the Russell 2000, not the S&P SmallCap 600, the newly minted ProShares Russell 2000 Dividend Growers ETF (NYSEArca: SMDV) merits a place in the small-cap dividend ETF conversation.

SMDV, which debuted in February, tracks the Russell 2000 Dividend Growth Index. That index includes small-cap firms with dividend increase streaks of at least a decade. Index constituents are screened for liquidity and dividend status, then selected and equal weighted subject to a maximum sector weight of 30%, according to Russell Investments.[ProShares Doubles Dividend Growth Lineup]

SMDV has returned almost 2.5% since coming to market, an impressive showing given the new ETF’s 23.3% weight to the utilities sector. Since SMDV debuted, 10-year Treasury yields have surged, taking the Utilities Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLU) down 7.3% in the process.

Financials are SMDV’s largest sector weight at almost 23.5%, a positive trait in an environment where investors are betting on higher interest rates and at a time when the sector is bolstering buybacks and dividends. [Higher Dividends Coming for Bank ETFs]