Luciano Siracusano, director of research at WisdomTree Investments, acknowledges the importance of expense ratios and yields, but advises investors to keep their eyes on the big picture.
"Cost is always important," he says. "But then, you need to look at yields as well as total returns. Total returns among funds can vary widely."
The WisdomTree Total Dividend Fund (DTD) was launched in June, 2006 and has a yield of 3.25%. It tracks the WisdomTree Dividend Index with financials accounting for approximately a third of the fund's total weight.
General Electric (GE), Exxon Mobil (XOM - Get Report), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) are among the Total Dividend Fund's top holdings. The fund presently trades about 10% below its year-ago levels.In addition to high-yield U.S. ETFs, investors might find it to be worth their while to consider ETFs that have an international focus. Krause finds the WisdomTree Emerging Markets High-Yielding Equity Fund (DEM) to be particularly attractive right now. "Emerging markets have gotten quite expensive in recent months," he says. "This fund is an excellent way to get defensive and still maintain international exposure." The Emerging Markets High-Yielding Fund was launched in July, and has Petroleo Brasileiro (PBR), Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSM) and PetroChina (PTR) among its top names. The fund tracks an index that has a dividend yield of 5.8%, and currently trades about 9% above its price from around the time of its inception last summer. Although it does not focus specifically on emerging markets like the WisdomTree fund, the PowerShares International Dividend Achievers Fund (PID) has a good deal of exposure to Western Europe and Canada. The fund yields 3.0% and has top holdings such as Tomkins (TKS), Barclays (BCS) and HSBC Holdings (HBC).