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Should You Buy Into the Ultimate Dividend ETF?

Exchange-traded funds offer a convenient way to invest in sectors or niches that interest you. If you'd like to add some large-cap dividend stocks to your portfolio but don't have the time or expertise to hand-pick a few, the RevenueShares Ultra Dividend (NYSEMKT: RDIV) ETF could save you a lot of trouble. Instead of trying to figure out which stocks will perform best, you can use this ETF to invest in lots of large-cap dividend stocks simultaneously.

The basics
ETFs often sport lower expense ratios than their mutual fund cousins. This ETF, focused on large-cap dividend stocks, sports a relatively low expense ratio -- an annual fee -- of 0.49%, and it recently yielded 3.5%. The fund is small, so if you're thinking of buying, beware of possibly large spreads between its bid and ask prices. Consider using a limit order if you want to buy in.

This large-cap dividend stocks ETF is too young to have a meaningful track record to assess. As with most investments, of course, we can't expect outstanding performances in every quarter or year. Investors with conviction need to wait for their holdings to deliver.

Why large-cap dividend stocks?
Large-cap stocks tend to offer more stability than small caps, and they have done some things right in order to reach their current size. Dividend payers tend to outperform nonpayers. Thus large-cap dividend stocks should have some appeal for your portfolio. This ETF takes the 60 stocks with the highest dividend yields from the S&P 500 and S&P 400, and then weights them by revenue. Utilities stocks were the ETF's biggest sector recently.

More than a handful of large-cap dividend stocks had strong performances over the past year. Rural telecom specialist Windstream  (NASDAQ: WIN  ) gained 19% and recently yielded 11.3%. It has been struggling in an environment of customers dropping landline phones, and it's trying to make up for those losses with enterprise high-speed Internet customers. Many have been expecting it to cut back or stop its dividend payout, but the company keeps paying it. Bulls like its tower business, its expansion in broadband, and its data centers, but others maintain that there are safer bets out there.

Tobacco giant Altria Group  (NYSE: MO  ) advanced 15% over the past 12 months, trudging along in part due to the challenges it faces in the U.S. -- such as rising taxes, regulations, competition from discount cigarettes, and a shrinking smoker base. Altria's first quarter featured shrinking revenue and volume but growth in its smokeless tobacco products. (Its SABMiller beer division helps, too!) Altria yields 4.9% and generates a lot of cash.

Other large-cap dividend stocks didn't do quite so well over the last year but could see their fortunes change in the coming years. Consolidated Edison  (NYSE: ED  ) lost 5% and yields 4.5%. Its profit margins and earnings have been rising, but so has its debt, and revenue has shrunk. The company has been investing heavily in improving its facilities while also taking stakes in alternative energies such as solar farms.

The big picture
If you're interested in adding some large-cap dividend stocks to your portfolio, consider doing so via an ETF. A well-chosen ETF can grant you instant diversification across any industry or group of companies -- and make profiting from it that much easier.

Top dividend stocks for the next decade
The smartest investors know that dividend stocks simply crush their non-dividend-paying counterparts over the long term. That's beyond dispute. They also know that a well-constructed dividend portfolio creates wealth steadily, while still allowing you to sleep like a baby. Knowing how valuable such a portfolio might be, our top analysts put together a report on a group of high-yielding stocks that should be in any income investor's portfolio. To see our free report on these stocks, just click here now.

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Selena Maranjian

Selena Maranjian has been writing for the Fool since 1996 and covers basic investing and personal finance topics. She also prepares the Fool's syndicated newspaper column and has written or co-written a number of Fool books. For more financial and non-financial fare (as well as silly things), follow her on Twitter...

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