As oil prices tumbled late last year and into the early part of 2015, investor fretted that energy equities and the corresponding exchange traded funds would be vulnerable to dividend cuts.

To be sure, no S&P 500 sector has seen as many dividend cuts or suspensions over the past year and year-to-date than energy, but many of the sector’s biggest stocks have boosted payouts this year, giving volatility-stricken investors reasons to revisit energy investments, including the Energy Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLE).

“Oil companies’ share prices, the denominator to the dividend numerator, have collapsed. Energy companies on the benchmark MSCI All-Country World Index of global stocks have sunk 6.8 percent this year, the worst performance of any industry,” report Rakteem Katakey and Javier Blas for Bloomberg.

Despite languishing oil prices and payout cuts and suspensions by smaller energy companies, many of XLE’s marquee components have boosted dividends this year. In April, Dow component Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM) said it will raise its quarterly dividend to 73 cents per share from 69 cents, extending the largest U.S. oil company’s dividend increase streak to 33 years.

Exxon’s dividend increase helped it remain in the ProShares S&P 500 Aristocrats ETF (NYSEArca: NOBL) and the PowerShares Dividend Achievers Portfolio (NYSEArca: PFM), dividend ETFs that require payout increase streaks of 25 and 10 years, respectively. [Exxon Keeps its Place in Dividend ETFs]

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