The U.S. remains the benchmark destination for dividend growth, but some other developed markets are credible payout growth destinations. That theme can be accessed with several exchange traded funds, including the ProShares MSCI EAFE Dividend Growers ETF (NYSEArca: EFAD).
EFAD, which debuted in August, MSCI EAFE Dividend Masters Index, which holds members of the MSCI EAFE Index that have increased their dividends for at least 10 straight years. The emphasis on dividend increase streaks is the backbone of some of the most popular U.S.-focused dividend ETFs. [Going Global for Dividend Growth]
At the country level, EFAD is top heavy as over 48% of its geographic weight is allocated to the U.K. However, that is not a problem for an international dividend growth ETF because the U.K. is one of the best, if not the best, ex-U.S. dividend growth markets. In 2014, U.K. firms once again offered excellent dividend growth. Payouts there surged 31% to $135 billion, according to Henderson Global Investors.
Despite the overweight U.K. position, EFAD’s other country holdings offer ample room for dividend growth as highlighted by the ETF’s 1.2% 30-day SEC yield. Japan, EFAD’s third-largest country allocation at nearly 8%, is finally starting to climb the dividend ladder.
For the year ended March 31, total dividends paid in Japan are expected to have risen 13% to $79.5 billion. In terms, it is estimated that total payouts in Japan this year will be more than triple the number seen in 2013. The average dividend yield for Tokyo Stock Exchange first-section companies—which include almost all of Japan’s top names—is 1.36%, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Switzerland, EFAD’s second-largest country weight at 9.8%%, is one of the steadiest Europe ex-U.K. Dividend growth markets. Estimates indicate that in 2014, the 20 largest firms listed on Switzerland’s benchmark Swiss Market Index paid a record $37.2 billion in dividends. [The EAFE way to Dividend Growth]