The Demented Dividend Guru

That's Charlie Munger's opinion of academic Jeremy Siegel. But we'll soon get to see just how demented the Wizard of Wharton actually is.

Put theory into practice
Siegel has signed on as a consultant and board member at WisdomTree, a money management company with more than 45 exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that combine two of Siegel's favorite investment strategies: indexing and dividends. Siegel demonstrated in his recent book The Future for Investors that the 100 highest-yielding stocks of the S&P 500 outperformed the broader index by more than three percentage points annually from 1957 to 2003.

Now, with WisdomTree's offerings, we'll find out whether this strategy can work going forward.

The guinea pig
The WisdomTree Dividend Top 100 Fund is one of the new Siegel-blessed ETFs. It's made up of the 100 highest-yielding members of the 300 largest companies by market cap in WisdomTree's Dividend Index. But unlike conventional indexes, the WisdomTree fund, a la Siegel, is roughly weighted by yield, rather than by market cap. Here are some of the fund's top holdings and their weightings:

Company

Current Yield

Weight Within Fund

Southern Copper (NYSE: PCU  )

6.8%

2.5%

American Capital Strategies (Nasdaq: ACAS  )

19.6%

2.2%

Progress Energy (NYSE: PGN  )

5.9%

1.4%

Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY  )

5.9%

1.1%

AT&T (NYSE: T  )

4.9%

1.1%

Verizon (NYSE: VZ  )

4.9%

1.1%

National City (NYSE: NCC  )

0.9%

0.8%

Data from WisdomTree Holdings.

We've long promoted the importance of dividends here at The Motley Fool. I've called dividend payers good stocks to buy now, and we agree with Siegel that dividends can save you from losses while helping you beat the market.

Build a custom dividend portfolio
However, dividend investing isn't necessarily low-risk. The Top 100 Fund, for example, has a position in National City -- a company that has slashed its dividend and faces an uncertain future due to subprime mortgage exposure. Indeed, one of the reasons why a stock may have a high yield is that investors are wary of it and the price has dropped.

In other words, in an index like this, you take the good with the bad.

The Foolish bottom line
Nevertheless, dividend investing can be a bona fide way to beat the market with less volatility and muted risk of total capital loss. Therefore, I recommend that Fools not only take a look at the WisdomTree offerings, but also at the iShares Dow Jones Select Dividend Index, as well as our own Motley Fool Income Investor service.

At Income Investor, James Early and Andy Cross recommend two specific dividend payers each month, helping you build a portfolio of payers that fits your timeline and risk tolerance better than an index can. The current picks yield more than 4% on average, and the entire portfolio is beating the S&P 500 by more than seven percentage points (as Siegel predicts solid high-yielders should).

You can click here to try the service free for 30 days and determine whether -- like our thousands of members -- it's the right dividend option for you.

This article was originally published on July 12, 2006. It has been updated.

Tim Hanson does not own shares of any company mentioned in this article. American Capital Strategies is an Income Investor choice. No Fool is too cool for disclosure.


Read/Post Comments (8) | Recommend This Article (45)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On October 30, 2009, at 7:52 PM, gwhizofto wrote:

    Why is an article from July 2008 the first article link on the main Dividends page of the website?

  • Report this Comment On December 01, 2009, at 10:06 PM, DaytonFlyers wrote:

    yeah baby

  • Report this Comment On January 06, 2010, at 7:22 PM, Spiceman53 wrote:

    Good question, gwhizofto. I don't see it answered or an update. Fools...?

  • Report this Comment On January 31, 2010, at 4:34 PM, hlmeans wrote:

    ACAS is on the verge of bankruptcy, maybe this article should be updated....

  • Report this Comment On January 31, 2010, at 5:27 PM, danteps wrote:

    We should be polite. However, folks at the Fool - you lose credibilty when you republish articles like this one.

    1. Things change over the course of months or years.

    2. When speaking of dividends, the yields obviously change. At least spend a moment to update the yields and put "as of date" at the top of your table.

    3. I believe the fund is ticker "DTN". This ETF now excludes financials.

    4. The top holdings have changed as well.

    I am trying to be constructive, but I am disappointed.

  • Report this Comment On January 31, 2010, at 5:59 PM, goalie37 wrote:

    Dividends - yes. Indexing - no.

  • Report this Comment On April 27, 2010, at 9:07 AM, weslindsey wrote:

    Disappointing. This article needs updating... seriously.

  • Report this Comment On August 16, 2010, at 12:27 AM, 7numismatics7 wrote:

    agreed... this article is woefully out of date!

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