With central banks throughout the developed world paring rates and engaging in monetary easing, government bond yields are falling, giving investors good reason to consider international dividend exchange traded funds.
The international dividend ETF conversation should include the First Trust Dow Jones Global Select Dividend Index Fund (NYSEArca: FGD). As its name implies, FGD is a global ETF, meaning it can hold U.S. stocks and the ETF does to the tune of a 15.4% weight. That makes the U.S. FGD’s second-largest country weight behind Australia.
Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the U.K. are the major developed markets where 10-year bond yields currently reside below the dividend yields on benchmark equity indexes. Though FGD holds no German or Japanese stocks, Australia, Canada, France and the U.K. combine for 53.5% of the ETF’s weight. [Temptation of International Dividend ETFs]
Last year, on a regional basis, North American dividends rose 15% to $392 billion, but U.K. firms once again offered excellent dividend growth. Payouts there surged 31% to $135 billion, according to Henderson Global Investors. FGD sports a trailing 12-month yield of almost 5.1%, about 160 basis points more than the comparable yield on the MSCI EAFE Index.
Though FGD has a tempting yield, that does not mean there is not room for dividend growth as the ETF’s 100 holdings must “have a five-year average payout ratio of less than or equal to 60% for U.S. and European companies; or less than or equal to 80% for all other countries,” according to First Trust.
There is some risk with FGD’s heavy Australia exposure.
“Slumping commodities prices mean that the Australian companies will be unable to defend their dividend policies this year and the dividend ETFs will take a hit, according to Aviate Group‘s Robert Buckley,” reports Shuli Ren for Barron’s.