Dividend growth is one of the most important contributors to a portfolio's long-term success. Scores of exchange traded funds (ETFs) offer investors exposure to baskets with the potential for established track records of robust payout growth.
The ProShares S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats ETF (NOBL) is one idea for investors looking for dependability and dividend growth. For stocks to become part of NOBL's lineup, they must meet certain standards that can work in favor of investors. The ETF follows the S&P Dividend Aristocrats Index, which requires constituent firms to have dividend increase streaks of at least 25 years.
NOBL's dividend requirement is not an easy standard for some companies to meet, but that does not mean the ETF does not, from time-to-time, make additions. NOBL is now home to 51 stocks after adding two and removing one.
"Industrial concern General Dynamics (GD), which has raised its dividend for 25 straight years, and retail-focused REIT Federal Realty Investment Trust (FRT), which has a 44-year track record of increasing dividends, have been added to the fund’s underlying index, which includes members of the S&P 500 with at least a quarter century of annual dividend raise," according to ProShares.
Some dividend ETFs were pressured last year due to concerns about the Federal Reserve's plans for interest rates. The reason being is that many dividend ETFs weight components by yield, leading to overweight exposure to the consumer staples, utilities and other rate-sensitive sectors.
NOBL does allocate nearly 26% of its weight to consumer staples stocks, but its overall exposure to rate-sensitive sectors is not alarmingly high as utilities, telecom and real estate stocks, all of which can be considered sensitive to rising Treasury yields, combine for less than 6% of the ETF's weight.
High-yield dividend ETFs and stocks are usually more vulnerable to rising rates than their dividend growth counterparts and it is hard to consider NOBL's underlying index dividend yield of 2.56% as cause for concern. That is only about 20 basis points above the yield on 10-year Treasuries. NOBL's index has a favorable track record.
"Since its inception in May 2005, the S&P Dividend Aristocrats Index has outperformed the broader S&P 500 with lower volatility," according to ProShares.
NOBL, which debuted in October 2013, is up 36.1%, including paid dividends, over the past year, beating the S&P 500 by 70 basis points over that stretch.