The difference between U.S. equity dividend yields and government bonds can be used as a proxy for valuation comparison between the two assets. On average over the past year, the yield on 10-year Treasuries exceeded that of the S&P 500 dividends by 7.7 basis points. However, the recent volatility helped push yields on 10-year Treasury notes below 2%.

NOBL, which tracks the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats Index, targets the cream of the crop, only selecting components that have increased their dividends for at least 25 consecutive years. Consequently, investors are left with a portfolio of high-quality, sustainable dividend payers as opposed to more high-yield focused funds that may contain companies on more precarious financial positions.

High-yield equity funds can be enticing to income-seeking investors, but the higher yields come with higher the risks and are often unstable, writes Kevin McDevitt, a senior analyst for Morningstar.

Alternatively, McDevitt argues that dividend growth is a more important factor for long-term dividend investors.

“Dividend growth plays a big role in determining total income over the life of an investment,” McDevitt said. “As a general guideline, the higher a company’s, and by extension a fund’s, yield, the less quickly it will grow over time. Over the short run, this initial yield matters more than dividend growth. But as the time horizon grows, dividend growth has a greater impact on the overall payout.”

ProShares S&P 500 Aristocrats ETF