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Bad Times Don't Deter 'Dividend Aristocrats'

By Gary Gordon for ETF Expert

Is a bad U.S. economy good for stock ETFs? It depends on the type of stock ETFs -- large, small, growth, value, foreign, domestic. It also depends upon whom you ask.

Some analysts believe that, at the end of the trading days, earnings are all that matter. In fact, if large companies are cautious with their cash in uncertain economic times, the lack of investment in human resources or research actually boosts productivity and profitability. We're seeing plenty of that now. And while that flies in the face of "You gotta spend money to make money," it keeps the " dividend aristocrats" on target to raise dividends through thin and thick.

Keep in mind, economic forecasts are unbelievably flawed. The U.S. Federal Reserve even talks about "unusual uncertainty" in predicting what'll happen next. Yet most feel fairly certain that companies from Automatic Data Processing (ADP) to Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) to Wal-Mart (WMT) will raise dividends year after year.

Dividend investors should still use stop-loss limit orders to protect against a black swan collapse in equities. With that said, consider the S&P SPDR Dividend Fund (SDY), which tracks the S&P High Yield Dividend Aristocrats Index. Another possibility is WisdomTree Large Cap Dividend (DLN), which tracks a dividend-weighted index to reflect a proportional share of aggregate cash dividends by the component companies. The distribution yields are 3.5% and 3.25% respectively, seriously denting the idea of buying-'n'-holding a 10-year Treasury bond.

A bad U.S. economy can be good for another group of stock ETFs: foreign stock ETFs.

One can easily recall the sovereign debt crisis headlines that plagued European equities through the first five months of the year. Since then? European economies have exceded a low bar for GDP growth on a weak euro-dollar that benefited European exports.
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