An ETF Sequel Worth Talking About (VYMI, VYM)

In Hollywood, movie sequels can be hit or miss both in terms of critical acclaim and box office success. The same can be said of exchange-traded funds (ETFs), a realm in which ETF issuers often follow up a successful domestic fund with an international equivalent. Some international ETFs that are modeled off a domestic peer do catch investors' attention, with a prime example being the Vanguard International High Dividend Yield ETF (VYMI), the international answer to the Vanguard High Dividend Yield ETF (VYM). VYM is one of the largest U.S. dividend ETFs.

Although Vanguard is the second largest U.S. ETF issuer and growing at a rate previously unseen in the funds industry, the Pennsylvania-based company does not issue many new ETFs. However, when it does, those new funds usually prove successful. Vanguard introduced VYMI and the Vanguard International Dividend ETF (VIGI), the ex-U.S. equivalent of the Vanguard Dividend Appreciation ETF (VIG), 13 months ago. At the end of March, VIGI and VYMI had $359.8 million and $389 million in assets under management, respectively, easily making the pair two of the most successful ETFs to debut last year. (See also: Vanguard Launches 2 Dividend-Oriented International ETFs.)

There are good reasons to consider ETFs such as VYMI. First, the bull market in U.S. stocks is aging, and many market participants believe the market here is richly valued. Second, about half the world's dividend-paying equities are found outside the U.S. Finally, ex-U.S. developed markets dividend stocks often sport higher yields than their U.S. counterparts.

VYMI tracks the FTSE All-World ex-U.S. High Dividend Yield Index, which includes a 19 percent tilt toward emerging markets. European stocks represent 53.5 percent of the index's weight. The median market cap of the 931 stocks found in VYMI is $48 billion. The ETF's top 10 holdings represent just over 17 percent of the fund's weight. While VYMI may compete with traditional MSCI EAFE Index strategies, investors should recognize that the comparison is not pure because VYMI allocates over 7 percent of its weight to Canadian stocks, and Canada is not part of the MSCI EAFE Index. (See also: Yield Hungry? Consider Vanguard's Global Dividend ETFs.)

Over the past 12 months, VYMI is up 7.9 percent, including paid dividends, beating the Vanguard FTSE Developed Market ETF (VEA) by 120 basis points over that stretch. VYMI charges 0.32 percent per year, making it cheaper than 73 percent of competing funds, according to issuer data. (See also: 3 Issues With International Dividend Yield ETFs.)

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