The title of this article refers to 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 (and periodically rebalanced), rather than by market cap. Here are some of the fund's holdings and their weightings:


Current Yield

Weight Within Fund

American Capital






Equity Residential (NYSE: EQR)



General Electric (NYSE: GE)



Newell Rubbermaid (NYSE: NWL)



Campbell Soup (NYSE: CPB)



Harley-Davidson (NYSE: HOG)



Gannett (NYSE: GCI)



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 Gannett -- an old-media company that’s been slashing jobs. 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 5% 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. Newell is a former Income Investor recommendation. No Fool is too cool for disclosure.