So much for the idea that dividend stocks are safer.
The average 12-month result for the 10 dividend funds in this fifth instalment of the 2023 Globe and Mail ETF Buyer’s Guide was a loss of 5.7 per cent, compared with a 5.2-per-cent decline for the S&P/TSX composite index.
Several things went wrong for the stocks held by dividend ETFs, including a bad year for bank stocks and headwinds for utilities and pipelines as a result of high interest rates. The good news here is that falling prices for dividend stocks, and dividend ETFs, means higher yields.
The ETF guide highlights how yields vary widely among dividend ETFs. Some funds target lower-yielding stocks with more growth potential, while others put more of an emphasis on yield. The average yield for the funds listed in the guide is 3.8 per cent, up from 2.9 per cent last year. Higher-yielding funds this year are in the mid-4-per-cent range.
The setback for financial stocks in the past year is a reminder to consider the sector breakdowns in the guide. Financials dominate some, but not all, dividend ETFs. Energy, a sector with extreme ups and downs, is another top holding for some funds.
The 2023 edition of the ETF Buyer’s Guide wraps up later in April by looking at asset allocation funds, which offer a well-diversified portfolio in a single ETF. The guide has already covered Canadian, U.S. and international equity funds, as well as bond funds.
Notes: Market data as of April 11, 2023. Returns to March 31, 2023. Source: Rob Carrick; Globeinvestor.com, TMX Money, ETF company websites
Here’s a discussion of terms used in this edition of the ETF Buyer’s Guide:
Assets: Shown to give you a sense of how interested other investors are in a fund.
Management expense ratio (MER): The main cost of owning an ETF on a continuing basis; published returns are shown on an after-fee basis.
Trading expense ratio (TER): The cost of trading commissions racked up by the managers of an ETF as they make adjustments to the portfolio of investments; add the TER to the MER for a full picture of a fund’s cost.
Yield: Based on the recent pattern of monthly payouts and the latest share price; may reflect payments of dividends and return of capital; check the fund profiles on ETF issuer websites to find out what kinds of income have been contained in distributions in recent years.
50-day trading volume: Average number of shares traded daily over the previous 50 days; it’s easier to buy and sell at competitive prices if an ETF is heavily traded.
Returns: ETF companies show total returns or share-price change plus dividends or distributions.
Beta: A measure of volatility that compares funds with a benchmark stock index, which always has a beta of one. A lower beta means less volatility on both the upside and the downside.
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