The second quarter, May in particular, is often chock full of dividend increases, but investors can also expect some payout hikes from big-name companies before the end of this month.
That includes Apple (NasdaqGS: AAPL), which though new to the dividend game, is the largest dividend payer in the S&P 500. Apple reinstituted its dividend in the third quarter of 2012 after a 17-year hiatus. Since reintroducing the payout at 37.8 cents per share per quarter, Apple’s dividend has grown at an impressive clip to 47 cents a share per quarter. Market observer are forecasting more dividend growth from Apple and expect that growth to arrive as soon as Thursday when the iPhone maker reports earnings. [Dividend ETFs Lag in Q1]
Markit expects Apple’s quarterly dividend to rise 8.5% to 51 cents a share, reports Amey Stone for Barron’s. “This is in line with its current capital allocation program of returning $130 billion to investors through 2015. Of this, the company has returned $103 billion to investors, including $73 billion in share repurchases with four quarters remaining to its completion,” according to a Markit note posted by Barron’s.
Apple is the world’s largest company by market value, so it is not surprising that the stock is a top 10 holding in over 100 exchange traded funds. What may be a surprise to some income investors is that Apple is a marquee holding in several well-known dividend ETFs. The surprise comes by way of Apple not yet possessing a lengthy dividend increase streak, a cornerstone of the weighting methodology behind some of the largest U.S. dividend funds.
As a dedicated technology ETF, the First Trust NASDAQ Technology Dividend Index Fund (NasdaqGS: TDIV) does not require a dividend increase streak for admittance because the concept of technology sector dividends is still a relatively new phenomenon.
The $706.1 million TDIV has an almost 8.1% weight to Apple, making the stock the ETF’s second-largest holding behind International Business Machines (NYSE: IBM). IBM has one of the longest dividend increase streaks among technology companies, but other well-known TDIV holdings, including Apple, Microsoft (NasdaqGS: MSFT) and Cisco Systems (NasdaqGS: CSCO), have been prodigious dividend growers in recent years. [Apple’s Ascent in Dividend ETFs]
The WisdomTree U.S. Dividend Growth Fund (NasdaqGM: DGRW) is one of three WisdomTree dividend ETFs that feature Apple as a top two holding. DGRW’s weight to Apple is almost 4.4%, making the stock the ETF’s second-largest holding behind Exxon Mobil.
DGRW tracks the WisdomTree U.S. Dividend Growth Index (WTDGI), which evaluates companies based on earnings quality, return on assets and return on equity. From Nov. 30, 2013 to Nov. 30, 2014, the WisdomTree U.S. Dividend Growth Index saw dividend growth of 10.1%, according to WisdomTree data.