David Fabian: Income investors are faced with the growing need to diversify their dividend streams away from traditional interest rate sensitive asset classes. If 2013 has taught us anything, it’s that central bank policies are set to change and we must adapt our asset allocation to stay ahead of the curve. No longer can your portfolio be dominated by traditional domestic fixed-income or REITs that are susceptible to the whims of rising rates. Instead, it’s time to look abroad and incorporate other areas of the market that are offering unique value opportunities for your portfolio.
One such area is in the realm of international dividend equity ETFs which have not had the same huge move as U.S. stocks in 2013. One of the funds on my watch list that I regularly monitor is the iShares International Select Dividend ETF (NYSEARCA:IDV). This ETF is focused on approximately 100 companies of dividend paying stocks in foreign developed countries. It currently has a 30-day SEC yield of 4.55%, which is over 50% higher than its domestic counterpart in the iShares Select Dividend ETF (NYSEARCA:DVY).
A quick check of the chart shows that IDV has pulled back since hitting a high in October and is now more than 5% off of its recent high. As long as it can maintain its uptrend above the 200-day moving average, I believe that this fund represents an excellent opportunity for a small portion of your income portfolio.
International stocks tend to be more volatile, which is why I typically prefer smaller allocation sizes when entering new positions. In addition, it always makes sense to incorporate a trailing stop loss to guard against downside risk in the event that these stocks stumble.
Another alternative for international income is the newly released Cambria Foreign Shareholder Yield ETF (NYSEARCA:FYLD). This innovative strategy is designed to select 100 overseas companies that are paying strong dividends, buying back shares, and reducing debt. The investment managers believe that these three pillars represent the best characteristics of companies returning free cash flow to shareholders. I like the fact that this ETF takes a more fundamental approach to its index construction which incorporates a greater percentage of small and mid-cap exposure.