ETF Focus: SDY - An ETF Focused on Consistent Dividend Growth

Editor’s Note: This article is courtesy of Todd Rosenbluth, S&P Global Market Intelligence Director of ETF Research.

The S&P Global Market Intelligence Focus ETF for July is SPDR S&P Dividend (SDY), a passively-managed offering focused on companies with consistent dividend growth. SDY garners an Overweight ranking based on a combination of holdings-level analytics and ETF analysis.

With the yield on the 10-year Treasury recently below 1.5%, investors have been seeking out alternative income strategies. Amid global economic concerns, tied in part to the Brexit vote, S&P Global Market Intelligence thinks a focus on companies with a consistent long-term record of dividend growth has merit.

S&P Dow Jones Indices, which operates independently from S&P Global Market Intelligence, runs the S&P High Yield Dividend Aristocrats Index used by SDY. The index consists of large-, mid- and small-cap companies in the S&P 1500 index and changes are made annually to reflect changes in dividend policy, when companies reach the 20-year milestone or join the broader ‘1500’. By raising dividends for 20-plus years, constituents in the S&P High Yield Dividend Aristocrats index have proven that returning additional cash to shareholders is a priority, regardless of the market environment.

Related: Dividend Growth ETFs Could Continue to Outperform

Nine companies were added in 2016, including mid-cap consumer staples Lancaster Colony (LANC) and mid-cap financial Renaissance Re Holdings (RNR); LANC last raised its dividend in the fourth quarter of 2015, while RNR hiked in the first quarter of 2016.

Meanwhile, many of SDY’s holdings increased their dividend in the second quarter, extending the long records. For example, WW Grainger (GWW), an industrial company, declared a 4.1% higher payout in April 2016. It was the distributor’s 44th straight increase; GWW has a 2.2% dividend yield.

Also in April, health care constituent Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) announced its latest dividend hike, 6.7%. This extended the firm’s streak to 53 years; JNJ sports a 2.7% dividend yield.

JNJ’s longevity of raising the dividend matches that of fellow SDY holdings 3M (MMM) and Procter & Gamble (PG), which yield 2.6% and 3.2%, respectively.