Monopoly dividends

Making An About-Face On A Dividend ETF

May 29th, just about two weeks ago, I wrote an article here about a dividend ETF not for me (at least not yet). I’ve decided to make an about face on this ETF and take another look. This is covering the SPDR® Portfolio S&P 500® High Dividend ETF (SPYD).

Firstly, I do recommend you read over my initial article if you have not. Now some of the same major components stand:

  • Contains an equal weight of the 80 highest yielding companies in the S&P
  • Rebalances bi-annually (last of January and last of July)
  • No other quality metric is applied
  • Carries a very low 7 basis point expense ratio

Holdings Revisited

Going down my analysis, I did dive into some of the top holdings and while I still question the thesis behind owning some of them individually, I did leave out one important tidbit.

Coty for example, was the top holding because at the end of January it was yielding close to 7% which put it in the index. On top of that, the stock has since doubled in a few months which makes its weight stand out on this list. This is actually a good problem to have, the stock was stupid cheap and quickly rebounded.

I used my stock return calculator to also generate a list of returns if we bought various ETFs on the day that SPYD went live (only in late 2015). It includes the S&P as a whole, SPYD, SCHD which is my favorite dividend ETF, and SPHD which is similar to SPYD in that it seeks out higher yield names from the S&P (though it also has a low volatility factor included).

The S&P won though the results were fairly close over this time period. Don’t believe me? Look at the results over time:

You would be hard pressed to find much delta between those ETFs. In any event, this is clearly an income focused ETF and I think it does a good job at that. Another follow-up to this article would be to see how the index historically has fared against the S&P.

The kicker for buying SPYD is actually the interest rate environment we are in. It looks like not only are interest rate increases off the table, the market is pricing in at least several rate cuts this year! There is a normal premium for equities over the safe return offered by a treasury. If the return by a treasury drops (in the event of a rate cut), the return offered by an equity can be lower. Since price and yield move in opposite directions, it may increase prices, dropping yield to keep that balance between the two.

This is a defensive ETF and will hold up better during times of volatility or market declines. It’s during the broad market rallies that this would fall behind the S&P and that’s OK. It’s another tool in the toolbox and it’s important to know when to use it.


Though I just wrote it two weeks ago, I gave a second look at my analysis and conclusion behind SPYD. I actually do think SPYD is a decent ETF. It’s a simple and low cost way to gain both instant diversity and boost your portfolio yield.

My plan is to start an initial position but then being more strategic on future purchases. I have some alerts setup to help me achieve that when a better opportunity arises.

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