Today's low interest rate environment has sent investors scurrying for yield across myriad asset classes. Whether it is with traditional dividend stocks, multi-asset products or bank loan and junk bond ETFs, investors have an increasing array of choices with which to generate income.
International equities, both developed and emerging markets, also represent an integral part of the dividend equation.
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Select developed market companies in sectors such as energy and telecommunications often feature higher dividend yields than their U.S. counterparts while many emerging markets firms have been upping their status as dividend-payers.
With that in mind, here are a few surprising sources of international dividend yield that ETF investors may not currently be considering.
db X-trackers MSCI EAFE Hedged Equity Fund (NYSE:DBEF) Due in large part to the success of the two hedged yen ETFs, currency hedged ETFs have spent some time in the spotlight this year. The db X-trackers MSCI EAFE Hedged Equity Fund is another name that is worthy of a place in that conversation.
DBEF, which has surged almost 14 percent in the past 90 days, is essentially the hedged currency version of the iShares MSCI EAFE Index Fund (NYSE:EFA). DBEF tracks the MSCI EAFE US Dollar Hedged Index, which features exposure to stocks from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Multiple online sources list DBEF's dividend yield anywhere from about 5.6 percent to almost 6.4 percent, which in either case would give the ETF more than double EFA's yield. Issuer data show DBEF's index yield was 3.25 percent at the end of March. That still is not too shabby in the current environment.
WisdomTree Middle East Dividend ETF (NASDAQ:GULF) Frontier markets and the Middle East are not the first destinations income investors stop at in their search for yield. Additionally, GULF's diminutive stature (the ETF has just $17.8 million in assets), probably scares some investors away.
That is a shame because GULF features a 37.4 percent weight to the United Arab Emirates and that is quite the feather in the ETF's cap when Dubai stocks are among the world's best performers this year.
GULF has a 30-day SEC yield of 4.12 percent and is worth watching in the next few weeks because index provider MSCI's annual reclassification is coming up. If UAE and/or Qatar, another 27.6 percent of the ETF's weight, are upgraded to emerging markets status, GULF could surge.
iShares S&P Developed ex-U.S. Property Index Fund (NYSE:WPS) Many income investors already know that U.S. real estate investment trusts are fertile ground for solid dividends and robust yields. The same can be said of a few international markets, which WPS proves with a trailing 12-month yield of 4.9 percent, according to iShares data.
About half of the ETF's weight is allocated to property developers and the other half goes to pure-play REITs. The country allocations are heavily developed market in nature with Hong Kong and Australia combining for 31 percent of the funds weight. More importantly, investors can use WPS to get some Japan exposure. The world's third-largest economy is the ETF's largest country weight at 29 percent.
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