Seeking High-Yielding ETFs

ETF investors need to consider not only high dividend yields but also diversification and solid companies.
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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The second quarter of 2010 was a tough one to stomach for many. However, for income and value investors, this stretch of market turmoil has provided a great opportunity to take advantage of low priced companies boasting high yields.

In many cases, the best way to gain access to income is through picking individual companies. However, ETFs provide the added diversification which is essential to protecting against the volatile market swings we have witnessed in recent months.

Currently, three popular sectors to watch when seeking out high yields are pharmaceuticals, energy, and technology.

Two pharma-focused ETFs to consider when looking for yield are

Pharmaceutical HOLDRs

(PPH) - Get Report

and

iShares Global S&P Healthcare Sector Index Fund

(IXJ) - Get Report

.

Looking solely at yield, PPH is the strongest of these funds, boasting a yield of nearly 4%. However, it is important to note that this fund is particularly top heavy, with

Johnson & Johnson

(JNJ) - Get Report

representing more than a quarter of its total assets. Having this much weight dedicated to a single holding increases the risk in the portfolio.

A better choice for conservative pharma fans is IXJ. While the fund's yield is smaller than the HOLDRs option at 2%, it is far more diversified.

Additionally, this fund takes an international approach to the pharma industry, providing investors with access to regions of the world untouched by the PPH. Not only do investors holding this fund gain access to domestic pharma giants like JNJ and

Pfizer

(PFE) - Get Report

, they also get access to international companies like

Novartis

(NVS) - Get Report

and

Sanofi-Aventis

(SNY) - Get Report

.

Energy is another sector of the market boasting strong yields. Investors looking to play the highest yielding members of the oil industry should check out

iShares Dow Jones U.S. Energy Sector Index Fund

(IYE) - Get Report

. Nearly 50% of this fund is dedicated to oil majors including

Exxon Mobil

(XOM) - Get Report

,

ConocoPhillips

(COP) - Get Report

and

Chevron

(CVX) - Get Report

which are not only strong and stable, but also boast 3% and 4% yields.

As with IXJ, it is important to be aware that gaining the diversification that comes with owning a fund like IYE means investors will have to give up some yield. Currently, this fund offers less 2% yield.

Finally, technology is another section of the market currently boasting high payouts. Companies such as

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

,

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

, and

Qualcomm

(QCOM) - Get Report

are notable high yielders in the tech sector, paying out more than 2%.

Investors looking to access these and other income producing tech names would be interested in

Technology Select SPDR ETF

(XLK) - Get Report

. The overall yield on this fund is 1.5%, placing within range of IXJ and IYE.

Video: Two Tech Stocks Under $5 >>

While still attractive, for investors primarily seeking income, the watered down yields paid out by these sector-specific ETFs may not be adequate. If that is the case, yield hunters can opt for one of the many income-focused ETFs currently available. Rather than tracking a specific market sector, these funds are designed to seek out the companies paying out the highest yields.

My choice in the realm of dividend-focused ETFs is

iShares Dow Jones Dividend Select Index Fund

(DVY) - Get Report

. DVY's index is comprised of not only big names like

McDonald's

(MCD) - Get Report

and CVX, but also small and mid-cap dividend payers, which will provide an added pop in times of market strength.

DVY does not give up diversification in its quest to locate high yielding companies. Top holdings,

Lorillard

(LO)

,

Entergy

(ETR) - Get Report

, and

Mercury General

(MCY) - Get Report

together represent less than 7% of the fund. The fund's sector breakdown is also spread widely. Utilities account for the largest portion of the fund's portfolio, representing a 28% slice. Consumer goods, industrials, and financials together make up an additional 48% of assets.

According to the iShares Website, DVY has a nearly 4% yield, placing well above the sector-specific funds listed above.

While DVY is a good choice for investors looking for domestic dividend paying companies, there are also funds focused on tracking high-yielding foreign companies as well. ETFs like the

WisdomTree Emerging Markets Small Cap Dividend Fund

(DGS) - Get Report

and

SPDR S&P International Dividend ETF

(DWX) - Get Report

offer exposure to diverse baskets of international companies while boasting attractive yields of 3.7% and 4.8% respectively.

Looking overseas for dividend paying companies can be difficult however, because these firms' payouts often are inconsistent, sometimes coming just once a year. Therefore, investors looking to get the most out of these holdings will have to hold them for longer periods of time.

Traversing through today's market environment takes a sharp eye and strong stomach. One way to relieve the stress that comes with a fearful and uncertain market is to seek out the consistent payouts that come with owning dividend paying ETFs.

-- Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.

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At the time of publication, Dion Money Management owned iShares Dow Jones Dividend Select Index Fund.

Don Dion is president and founder of

Dion Money Management

, a fee-based investment advisory firm to affluent individuals, families and nonprofit organizations, where he is responsible for setting investment policy, creating custom portfolios and overseeing the performance of client accounts. Founded in 1996 and based in Williamstown, Mass., Dion Money Management manages assets for clients in 49 states and 11 countries. Dion is a licensed attorney in Massachusetts and Maine and has more than 25 years' experience working in the financial markets, having founded and run two publicly traded companies before establishing Dion Money Management.

Dion also is publisher of the Fidelity Independent Adviser family of newsletters, which provides to a broad range of investors his commentary on the financial markets, with a specific emphasis on mutual funds and exchange-traded funds. With more than 100,000 subscribers in the U.S. and 29 other countries, Fidelity Independent Adviser publishes six monthly newsletters and three weekly newsletters. Its flagship publication, Fidelity Independent Adviser, has been published monthly for 11 years and reaches 40,000 subscribers.