Four Dividend ETFs For High Yield and Safety [iShares Trust, Vanguard REIT ETF, iShares S&P US Pref Stock Idx Fnd (ETF)]

yieldSteve Mauzy: I’m an income investor who prefers to construct investment portfolios with individual securities.  Fortunately, I have the time and ability to analyze and cobble together individual securities to create high-yield, diversified income portfolios.  After all, it is  my occupation.

Other investors are more time constrained, or they lack the wherewithal, or perhaps even the confidence, to undertake individual security analysis.  For these investors, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are useful alternatives.  Well-diversified income portfolios are possible with just a few ETFs, if you know which to choose.

The following four dividend ETFs are solid choices for any income investor. They’re low-volatility, low cost, and high yield. With these four ETFs, an investor can produce a well-diversified income portfolio.

A fund of large-cap dividend growers is a solid anchor. I like the iShares High Dividend ETF (NYSEARCA:HDV). This ETF gives investors immediate exposure to the largest dividend-growth companies: Chevron (NYSE: CHV), AT&T (NYSE: T), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), and many more. The HDV is a true dividend-growth investment. Over the past two-and-a-half years, the quarterly dividend has more than doubled to $0.58 a share from $0.24. The rising payout has helped lift the fund’s yield to a respectable 3.2%.

Incorporating international exposure is generally a good idea. Foreign stocks tend to be imperfectly correlated with U.S. stocks, so they provide a diversification benefit.  I prefer to keep it safe and invest in large international income stocks in developed markets.

The SPDR S&P International Dividend ETF (NYSEARCA:DWX) fits the bill. This international  fund owns over 100 of the highest-yield stocks in Western Europe, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada.  The companies are large- or mid-cap and weighted by yield, which produces an overall fund yield of 6.9%.  With the DWX, investors get high-yield and international exposure. What’s more, they get it at a reasonable price: the DWX trades at only 13 times current earnings.

I’m also a fan of real estate exposure.  In the REIT ETF space, I like the Vanguard REIT ETF (NYSEARCA:VNQ). The fund invests in a wide swath of REIT securities – storage, healthcare, residential, and commercial properties.  The VNQ offers instant REIT diversification, and a high yield. At 4.2%, the yield on the VNQ fund is higher than many individual REIT stocks.

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