Going For Broke When It Comes To Yield

By Aaron Levitt | April 17, 2012 AAA

At this point it's no secret that savers are having a hard time living off of their investments. With the Federal Reserve (fed) keeping interest rates at basically zero for the last few years, traditional sources of income are yielding nothing. Certificate of Deposits, bonds and money market funds like the Guggenheim Enhanced Short Duration Bond ETF (ARCA:GSY) aren't even paying enough to beat inflation. To that end, all sorts of real estate investment trusts (REITs), master limited partnerships (MLPs) and dividend paying stocks have become portfolio staples as investors search for high yield. But what if those payments still aren't enough? Luckily for investors, there are several other "high yielding" avenues to explore.

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Added Risk, but Big Payouts
With so much attention being thrust towards replacing lost wages, the number of options for investors looking for dividends has increased exponentially over the last few years. The boom in the exchange-traded fund (ETF) industry provides investors several ways to add dividend income to a portfolio. New asset classes, once reserved for institutional investors are now available for the retail set. By tapping into some of these choices, portfolios now have a way to add potentially higher yields.

Nothing in life is free. That holds true when it comes to higher yielding investments. Even in sectors that are set-up as "pass through" tax structures, high yield often means higher risk. By using broad ETFs, investors can realize diversification benefits and spread-out their bets in these riskier sectors. For those seeking to add a hefty dividend stream to their portfolio, the following ETFs might just be up their ally.

SEE: Why Dividends Matter

A Different Kind of REIT
While most investors are familiar with traditional REITs (the kind that owns physical buildings), mortgage REITs generally fall off investors' radar as less than 10% of the sector falls into this category. These companies will loan money to owners of real estate or, more commonly, purchase existing mortgages or mortgage-backed securities. Many of these companies borrow at near-zero interest rates, courtesy of the fed, and then use that leverage to purchase mortgage-backed securities. These mortgage-backed securities can be insured by federal agencies (like Ginnie Mae) or those without agency insurance (non-agency). The result is dividend yields well north of 9%.

Given how many moving parts a mortgage REIT like Chimera Investment (NYSE:CIM) has, investors may feel more comfortable using a broad approach. The iShares FTSE NAREIT Mortgage Plus ETF (ARCA:REM) tracks 28 different mortgage REITs including Chimera as well has industry stalwart Annaly Capital (NYSE:NLY). Charging just 0.48% in expenses, the fund offers investors a jaw dropping 30-day SEC yield of over 14%. Likewise, investors can use the Market Vectors Mortgage REIT ETF (ARCA:MORT) to gain broad exposure as well.

A Super Pay-Out
An ETF with "super" in its title better deliver in the yield department. With around a 12.32% distribution yield, the Global X SuperDividend ETF (ARCA:SDIV) certainly delivers in the income department. The funds index tracks the performance of 100 equally weighted stocks that rank among the highest dividend yielding equity securities in the world. That includes typical high yielders like Philip Morris (NYSE:PM) as well as those that are more exotic like Australia's Spark Infrastructure Group (OTCBB:SFDPF). The funds exposure to mid-caps and international firms has made it a volatile choice over the last few months, but the monthly distribution could be worth the price movement.

SEE: 5 Common Misconceptions About ETFs

High Yielding Financials
With the U.S. and world economies finally beginning to show some signs of a recovery, financial stocks may finally be a buy. Historically a main source of dividends, the financial sector also offers investors a chance to gain some real income as the economy expands. The PowerShares KBW High Dividend Yield Financial (ARCA:KBWD) tracks a basket of mortgage REITs, business development companies (BDCs) and other high yielding financial stocks to produce nearly a 10% dividend distribution. Like the SDIV, the PowerShares fund pays monthly. For those looking for more juice from their financials, the UBS E-TRACS 2x Wells Fargo BDC ETN (ARCA:BDCL) might be worth a look. Tracking a basket of BDCs like Triangle Capital (NYSE:TCAP), which high yields in their own right, the exchange traded notes uses leverage to boost returns. Currently, that leverage boost is providing a staggering 18.71% dividend yield. While the fund is risky, it could be an interesting "spec" play in an income portfolio.

The Bottom Line
Income remains the topic du jour for a variety of investors. However, the continued low interest rates have many traditional sources barely beating inflation. Luckily for investors, the ETF boom has produced many ways for portfolios to get their high yield fix. The previous funds, along with the PowerShares CEF Income Composite (ARCA:PCEF), make ideal choices.

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At the time of writing, Aaron Levitt did not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article.

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