Dividend ETF Newcomers Diverge

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Finding ways to navigate the market's recent spurt of volatility has become increasingly difficult in recent days as precious metals have taken a hit and popular safe-haven currencies have run into steep headwinds.

Although some may be hesitant towards entering this market, I encourage investors to maintain a focus on alternative defensive asset classes.

One market shield that has continued to hold up relatively well has been dividend stocks. This is evidenced by the standout performance of the iShares Dow Jones Select Dividend Index ETF ( DVY) vs. broad indices such as the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average over the past three months.

DVY and the SPDR S&P Dividend ETF ( SDY) have traditionally been the products I have encouraged investors to turn to in order to gain expansive exposure to the universe of dividend-paying equities.

They are not alone, however. In recent months, fund companies have launched new products designed to provide investors with unique exposure to the universe of dividend-paying equities. They include the iShares High Dividend Equity Index Fund ( HDV) and the Global X SuperDividend ETF ( SDIV).

Although these two newcomer funds are both designed to provide target yield-bearing stocks, they have witnessed a notable divergence during their first few months of trading.

Unveiled in early April, the iShares High Dividend Equity Index Fund appears, on the surface, to be a carbon copy of the already-popular DVY. In fact, differs from its sister fund in various ways.

For example, while DVY sets aside over one-third of its portfolio to the utilities sector, HDV places its largest bets on health care. HDV is also considerably more top-heavy than DVY. The fund's top 10 positions account for more than half of its portfolio. DVY's 10 largest positions, meanwhile, represent 22% of the fund.

During the past three months, HDV's unique design has paid off. The fund has managed to outpace not only broad market indices but also DVY.

Investors appear to have embraced this tweaked dividend ETF. During its opening months of trading it has managed to generate a substantial following, changing hands 130,000 times each day.

On the other hand, the Global X SuperDividend ETF appears to be sputtering. Initially launched in June, SDIV is designed to track a pool of dividend-paying companies from around the globe. Developed nations including the U.S., Australia, and the U.K. represent the fund's largest geographic slices.

Investors poured into SDIV during its opening days of trading, but in following months the fund's popularity waned. Since early August, it has failed to see its daily volume top 50,000.

We suspect the scant interest in SDIV is because of investor hesitance about the global marketplace. Turbulent action facing regions like the EU has weighed heavily on the fund's performance. During the past three months, shares of SDIV have dipped close to 20%.

In the cutthroat ETF universe, only the strongest funds survive. Although we have seen a taste of what can be expected from these two dividend newcomers, HDV and SDIV are still young. I would encourage investors to continue to keep a watch over them in the near future to find out whether they can cement their places in this industry.

-- Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.

At the time of publication, Dion Money Management owned DVY.

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