Investors have utilized exchange traded funds to tap into dividend plays in the U.S. With more diversifying into foreign markets, there are a number of high-quality dividend ETFs that provide exposure to international stocks as well.

On the recent webcast, Exporting Your Dividend Strategy: Dividend Growth Investing in International Markets, Simeon Hyman, head of investment strategy at ProShares, explains that among dividend-paying stocks, dividend growers are seen as an elite group that have a long history of increasing yields.

“Dividends are often viewed as a reflection of management confidence in the company’s earnings, balance sheet and performance potential,” Hyman said. “Dividend growers are an elite group of dividend payers. Not only have they paid dividends – they’ve grown them.”

Investors have typically steered toward the dividend investment strategy as a means to garner enhanced total returns.

“Dividend growth is seen by many as an indicator of return potential,” Kieran Kirwan, director of investment strategy at ProShares, said. “Dividend growers generally outperformed stocks that paid, cut or did not pay dividends at all.”

Moreover, Kirwan said that dividend aristocrats, or companies that have consistently raised dividends, have outperformed the S&P 500 index with less risk.

“Since its inception in 2005, the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats index has outperformed the S&P 500 by a significant margin—almost 3 percentage points—with lower volatility,” Kirwan said.

The ProShares S&P 500 Aristocrats ETF (NYSEArca: NOBL), which tracks the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats index of companies that have consecutively raised dividends for at least 25 years, has increased 3.0% over the past year, whereas the S&P 500 index has dipped 0.1%.