PowerShares Launches High-Div/Low-Vol ETF

October 18, 2012

Invesco PowerShares, seeking to leverage the success of its PowerShares S&P 500 Low Volatility Portfolio (NYSEArca: SPLV)—but with a twist—today is launching an ETF that cherry-picks stocks that have both high dividends and low volatility.

The PowerShares S&P 500 High Dividend Portfolio (NYSEArca: SPHD) will track the S&P 500 Low Volatility High Dividend Index, which consists of securities that have historically provided high-dividend yields with lower volatility. The benchmark assigns greater weights to those securities with the highest dividend yields.

It’s a clever twist that marries two of the most powerful trends in the ETF market over the past year. Investors are both looking for a way to minimize the sometimes-rough ride in markets while earning relatively attractive dividends to cushion the corrections in a post-crash era of ultra-low bond yields.

The question remains whether SPHD, which will have a 0.30 percent annual expense ratio, will have any of the success that PowerShares’ low-volatility fund SPLV and the iShares High Dividend Equity Index Fund (NYSEArca: HDV) had when they launched last year as the high-dividend and low-volatility trends began to gather heads of steam.

Indeed, SPLV and HDV were neck-and-neck last year for the honors of most successful product launches of 2011. SPLV is now a $2.48 billion ETF and HDV has assets of $2.23 billion.

SPHD comes to a space that is already well-populated by heavyweights such as State Street Global Advisors’ SPDR S&P Dividend ETF (NYSEArca: SDY), which boasts more than $9.43 billion in assets, as well as iShares' HDV.

While the SPHD does appear to offer something new, PowerShares is no stranger to the high-dividend yield strategy.

The company already offers a roster of equity income strategies, including the PowerShares High Yield Equity Dividend Achievers Portfolio (NYSEArca: PEY) and the KBW High Dividend Yield Financial Portfolio (NYSEArca: KBWD), but the new fund will be the cheapest by far.

The $300 million PEY costs 0.60 percent and KBWD has a 1.32 percent expense ratio, which includes acquired fund fees of 0.95 percent.

The selection process begins with picking the 75 highest-dividend-paying names from the S&P 500, and then narrows down to the 50 stocks that showed the lowest realized volatility in the previous 12 months, according to SPHD’s prospectus.



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