VYM: Lean on This Dividend ETF if Interest Rates Rise

The Federal Reserve could boost interest rates later this year, but that move may not hinder dividend stocks and exchange traded funds as much as some income investors think. Additionally, dividend growth stocks could prove particularly sturdy in the event of an interest rate increase.

Stocks with steady dividend yields reassure investors of a company’s strong financial health. Additionally, dividend-paying stocks typically outperform those that do not pay over the long haul, with less volatility, due to the compounding effect of dividends on the investment’s overall return.

The Vanguard High Dividend Yield ETF (NYSEArca: VYM) has been solid during some trying times for dividend stocks and ETFs. VYM is one of the four largest U.S. dividend ETFs and one of the least expensive as well.

Related: Low U.S. Interest Rates Boost International Dividend ETFs

It can be said that VYM belies its high-yield implication because the ETF’s exposure to the sectors investors view as yield destinations is relatively light. Staples, utilities and telecom combine for nearly a quarter of the ETF’s weight with over half that coming from staples names. That is to say that with its relatively light combined allocation to the telecom and utilities sectors, VYM is not as sensitive to rising interest rates as some utilities-heavy dividend ETFs are.


VYM charges just 0.09% per year, making it less expensive than 92% of comparable funds.

“Investors looking deeper into the portfolio will see Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) at #21. Wal-Mart’s shares remain cheap in my book. The company can rapidly grow earnings per share by buying back stock. The only way for that strategy to falter is if earnings and cash flows in future years declined so that the forward earnings yield was lower than the trailing earnings yield,” according to a Seeking Alpha analysis of VYM.