Exchange-traded funds offer investors a wide range of alternatives to choose from, and those seeking high levels of income from their investments can choose a high-yield ETF that fits the bill. However, high-yield ETFs come in several different flavors, and what works for you might not work as well for another investor. Below, three Motley Fool contributors weigh in with some high-yield stocks that offer attractive opportunities. Take a look and see what you think about these options.
Definitions of what constitutes a high-yield exchange-traded fund vary, and so some strong dividend-focused ETFs don't necessarily have the payout yields that other ETFs that concentrate entirely on yield have. Nevertheless, the Vanguard High Yield Dividend ETF (VYM 1.44%) does a good job of balancing the desire for income with the need for risk management and control.
This Vanguard ETF takes a simple approach, looking to match the return of the FTSE High Dividend Yield index. This index includes more than 400 dividend stocks, chosen because of their relatively high yields compared to the broader market overall. Unlike other dividend ETFs that also take into account the rate at which companies have grown their dividends over time, this Vanguard ETF primarily seeks out current high yield. That's what produces the ETF's yield of about 3.4% currently.
The advantage that the Vanguard ETF has over some other high-yield investments is that the dividend stocks it holds also have the potential to rise in value and see dividends increase as well. That can produce additional returns that are even more attractive. If you're willing to give up the highest-yielding options, Vanguard High Yield Dividend offers a solid ETF choice for dividend-stock lovers.
If you want something truly unique in the world of high-yield ETFs, set your eyes on the Guggenheim Multi-Asset Income ETF (CVY 1.65%), which currently sports more than 150 securities and is yielding 6.2%, which is nearly three times better than the S&P 500's current yield.
What makes this ETF so unique is the fact that it holds a broad array of high-yield investments in one basket. Instead of just investing in a sector known for dividends, or going after a portfolio full of real estate investment trusts, the Guggenheim Multi-Asset Income ETF combines a plethora of high-yield and tax-beneficial businesses under one umbrella.
You'll find well-known high-yield stocks within this fund, including U.K.-based pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca and household staple Kraft-Heinz. Overall, financials comprise about 39% of the funds' holdings, with energy and information technology adding another 17% and 10%, respectively.
But you'll also find a mix of preferred stock holdings, which often bear higher yields, master-limited partnerships (MLPs) in the energy industry, and real estate investment trusts (REITs). MLPs and REITs are of particular interest to retired and wealthy individuals because they come with highly coveted tax benefits. Many distributions paid from MLPs and REITs simply reduce an owners' cost basis, meaning no tax is paid until an MLP or REIT is sold, or until the cost basis has been pushed to zero. Although MLPs and REITs tend to be more interest-rate sensitive since they rely on borrowing money to fund their business expansion, interest rates don't look ready to skyrocket anytime soon.
Additionally, its net expense ratio of 0.83% might appear a bit high, but don't forget about the tax benefits associated with MLPs and REITs, which should help to offset these annual expenses.
If you're looking for a fresh way to use ETFs to kick-start your growth and income, take a gander at the Guggenheim Multi-Asset Income ETF.
One big dividend paying ETF I find intriguing is Invesco's PowerShares S&P 500 High Dividend Low Volatility Portfolio (SPHD 0.90%). The ETF's yield isn't the highest of the bunch, but it does offer the potential for solid income from stocks that don't typically suffer the wild swings that could decimate the value of your investment overnight.
Specifically, the S&P 500 High Dividend Low Volatility Portfolio ETF invests in steady-eddy companies that have high market caps and pay healthy dividend yields. For example, its top holdings include telecom companies CenturyLink and AT&T.
Overall, financial and utility stocks comprise about 40% of this ETF's portfolio, and about 80% of its holdings are either large-caps or mid-caps.
Given that this ETF may not expose the average investor to the nausea-inspiring swings that others may, its market-beating dividend yield of 3.9% makes it a top choice for investors.