New ETF Goes Global For Small-Cap Dividends

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WisdomTree Investments, Inc. (NASDAQ:WETF), the fifth-largest U.S. issuer of exchange-traded funds, introduced on Thursday the latest in the company's long line of dividend-focused funds with the debut of the WisdomTree Global SmallCap Dividend Fund (BATS: GSD).

GSD is another boon for Kansas-based BATS, which has been looking to bolster the number of ETFs it lists. Earlier this month, iShares listed five new ETFs on BATS, while in late October three new WisdomTree ETFs debuted on the exchange.

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The new ETF follows the WisdomTree Global SmallCap Dividend Index (WTGS), which is a fundamentally weighted index that measures the performance of 1000 largest small capitalization companies that rank within the bottom 5 percent of the WisdomTree Global Dividend Index by market capitalization, according to WisdomTree.

Related Link: Getting Contrarian With Emerging Market ETFs

The Index And The Fund

Holdings in the index are weighted based on annual cash dividends paid. The WisdomTree Global SmallCap Dividend Fund features exposure to 37 countries, the bulk of which are developed markets.

Thirteen of the countries represented in GSD are emerging markets. Due to the fact that it is a global fund, GSD allocates over 49 percent of its weight to U.S. equities. At 10.8 percent, Japan is the only other nation to command a double-digit allocation in the new fund.

Japanese dividend growth has improved in recent years and the WisdomTree Japan Hedged SmallCap Equity Fund (WisdomTree Trust (NASDAQ: DXJS)) currently offers a better yield than what investors will find on Japanese government bonds.

Although GSD's underlying index is a new a benchmark, it does come with a tantalizing dividend yield of 4.23 percent, the result of a screening process that captures plenty of stocks that yield north of four percent.

The WisdomTree Global SmallCap Dividend Index has nearly 40 percent of its weight in stocks with dividend yields above 4.44 percent. The MSCI ACWI Small Cap Index only has 16 percent of its weight in highest quartile and almost 21 percent weight in non-dividend payers. Although weight may fluctuate throughout the year, at each annual rebalance WisdomTree requires companies to be current dividend payers before inclusion.

We believe this limits the weight to firms that tend to be more speculative and lower quality to zero. The MSCI ACWI Small Cap Index does not share this requirement, said WisdomTree in a note out Thursday.

None of GSD's nearly 500 holdings command weights in excess of 0.82 percent, but the ETF is heavily allocated to just three sectors as financial services, industrials and consumer discretionary stocks combine for 62 percent of the new ETF's weight. GSD charges 0.43 percent a year, or $43 for every $10,000 invested.

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