A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
If the twomarket crashes since the turn of the century have
taught us one thing, it is that this proverb is extremely
relevant toinvesting .
Investors relying only to future growth instock prices for
their returns were badly burned as they saw their portfolios
decimated by the dot-com bust and the GreatRecession . Those
investors holding portfolios with an even mix of dividends and
growth were certainly not immune, but they could at least look to
pastcash returns for overall performance.
On average since 1962, the market has suffered crashes of more
than 20% in ayear once every seven and a half years.
Still, investing is about long-term returns, and even the
bestdividend stocks may not get your portfolio to its goal.
So what's an investor to do?
The answer lies in a group of stocks that StreetAuthority
co-founder Paul Tracy calls "Forever Stocks."
These are the stocks that you can confidently hold forever,
collecting your dividend checks and banking the higher share
price when you need it. These are the companies with strong cash
flows thatsupport a current cash return but can increase the
share price over time.
Problem is, these stocks don't come around often. Most
companies with stocks yielding around 3% or higher often do not
keep enough cash to reinvest into their business. Utilities and
telecoms are good examples. Both industries are heavily
regulated, and these companies pay out much of theirfree cash
flow , leaving only enough for maintenancecapital expenditures.
In fact, only about 3% of companies withshares trading in U.S.
markets pay better than a 3% dividend and still enjoy a return
onequity of 15% or higher.
For some "Forever"equities , you have to look beyond the U.S.'
Despite the recent sell-off in emerging-market shares, this is
really where investorswill find future growth. Europe might eke
out growth in the fourth quarter, if it's lucky, while the U.S.
and Japan are doing everything they can for a target of just 2%
growth on the year. Down from the decade average around
7%,emerging markets are still forecast to post 5.5% growth this
Though the emerging-market space has underperformed this year,
it should be a fairly short-lived weakness. One of the biggest
culprits to the underperformance in emerging-market stocks has
been a decrease in profitability with higher labor costs.
Increases inminimum wage rates across the group have brought
return on equity from a peak of 15.7% in 2011 to 12.9% this year.
Even at this lower level, the group still outperforms others like
Europe (10.9%) and Japan (6%). As the developed economies recover
to normalized levels and exports pick up, the emerging markets
will see a faster rebound.
The problem is that many emerging-market indexes, and thefunds
that follow, are constructed according to themarket
capitalization of the constituent countries, so larger markets
make up a bigger weight. This means that markets that have been
successful in development and may be on the verge of
developed-nation status will hold bigger weights.
The solution? An emerging-marketfund that weights countries by
fundamentals and dividends rather than market
WisdomTree Emerging MarketsEquity Income Fund (
rebalances each year based on dividends andearnings of the
universe of tradable emerging-market stocks. Companies must have
adividend yield in the top 30% of those in the
WisdomTree Dividend Index (WTDI)
and trade at least a quarter-million shares per month to be
considered for inclusion. The fund of 350 companies pays a 3.3%
dividend yield and has beaten 98% of its peers over the past six
The weighting on fundamentals gives the fund a value tilt
since higher price-to-earnings stocks are dropped in favor of
those with high dividends and lower prices. The fund, at $5.5
billion, is the largest of the WisdomTree emerging-markets lineup
withoverweight exposure to energy, materials and telecom.
The biggest difference between the fund and others in the
emerging-markets space is its huge underweight exposure to South
Korea, which makes up just 2.9% of theindex , compared with 14.3%
in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index.
The value tilt and focus on dividends has worked. Since its
inception in 2007, the fund has beaten the MSCI Emerging Markets
Index by an average of more than 5% a year. Even more impressive
is the fact that volatility in the shares is lower at 23% versus
28% in the popular emerging-markets index.
Most of the fund's holdings are not directly available to U.S.
investors, making the exposure even more valuable in my opinion,
but some -- such as
Chunghwa Telecom (
, a $25 billion integrated telecommunications company in Taiwan
-- are traded asAmerican depositary receipt (ADR) shares. CHT
pays a 3.6% dividend yield and has returned acompound rate of 14%
annually over the past five years. Another standout of the fund,
Banco de Chile (
, is a $13.8 billion financial institution in Chile with a 4%
dividend yield and a compound return of 22% annually over the
past five years.
This graphic shows the relative country and sector weightings
in the fund. As with most emerging-market funds, Russia, China
and Brazil make up a large portion of holdings, but the fund
underweights other markets like South Korea with its questionable
The recent talk of tapering massiveliquidity programs by the
Federal Reserve has seen a rebound in the dollar and added to
emerging market weakness. Still,debt levels topping 100% ofGDP in
the United States and other developed nations means that
long-term growth may never return to its past levels.
Return on equity is what drives long-term performance in
shares and the emerging world is the only place to provide the
kind of returns you need to meet your financial goals.
The fund trades for just 10 times the underlying earnings of
the companies held, compared with 11 times for the
iShares MSCI Emerging Markets (
and 16 times for companies in the S&P 500. If valuations
rebound closer to their 20-year median of 15 times trailing
earnings, the shares could bounce 50% off of current
Even if a return to historical levels is not in the cards, GDP
growth in emerging markets of 5.5% shouldyield earnings growth of
around 7.5% and $5.13 per share for companies in the fund. Aprice
multiple of 12 times earningsputs thefair value at $61.56 per
share, again of 23% on top of the 3.3% dividend yield.
Risks to Consider:
Weakness in the global macroeconomic environment as well as
strength in the dollar could hold shares down in the shortterm .
The real risk is getting anxious during periods of higher
volatility and selling out of a "Forever"investment at low
Action to Take -->
The U.S. faces a few years of very good growth relative to other
developed markets, but emerging markets may be a better
investment for the long term. The WisdomTree Emerging Markets
Equity Income Fund provides exposure to this growth while
generating a stable dividend stream. The fund breaks the mold
with itsrebalancing on fundamentals and should continue to
outperform other emerging markets options.
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