The fund provides exposure to many of the highest dividend-paying stocks from several developed Asian markets. With 30 constituents, the index is not as diversified, at the security level, as some broader benchmarks focused on that part of the world.
As the index chooses securities based on their dividend yield rather than trying to represent the biggest components of the underlying market, this fund could be used as a complement to core exposure to the region, though there would be potential for overlap. Its position in the Morningstar Style Box shows a tilt towards value stocks, indicating that it may also work well in conjunction with an exposure offering more of a growth profile.
Because of the investment strategy, the fund would suit an investor looking for a regular income stream. The fund pays out dividends from the underlying stocks up to four times per year, currently at a yield level of 3.79%. By comparison, the DJ Asia/Pacific Index has a dividend yield of 2.48%.
While many investors dream about the thrill of capital gains, through history much of the total return from equities has come in the form of dividends. Depending on the market in question they have historically accounted for anywhere from 40% to 60% of the returns from investing in stocks. A policy of regularly paying out earnings forces discipline on corporate management, lowering the odds of destructive acquisitions. And dividends give investors a ‘bird in the hand,’ rather than just the promise of enhanced enterprise value at an unidentified point in the future.
A rapidly growing China, as well as Malthusian concerns about the world running out of non-renewable resources, has driven a terrific bull market for commodities over the last decade. Countries like Australia and New Zealand, with lots of resources and stable governments, have been beneficiaries of this trend. The concern right now is that with China slowing down and other parts of the world in recession, the demand for raw materials could fall considerably. China’s GDP grew by 7.7% in the 12 months through the first quarter of 2013; still robust on an absolute basis but less than had become customary. The Australian and New Zealand companies within the index represent parts of the economy outside the materials sector—such as Financials, which makes up almost 40% of the Australian exposure—but will be indirectly impacted by the state of the market for natural resources.
Japan has long suffered under deflationary pressure, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has taken aggressive steps to weaken the yen, including pressuring the central bank to accept a higher inflation target. A weak local currency bolsters the export-driven economy.
Since April 2006, the DJ Asia/Pacific Select Dividend 30 Index has posted an annualised return, in U.S. dollars, of 10.67%, far above the U.S. dollar returns of the S&P 500 and the MSCI Europe Index over the same period.
The DJ Asia Pacific Select Dividend 30 Index is comprised of 30 stocks across Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, and Singapore. Stocks are weighted by dividend yield, calculated as their unadjusted indicated annual dividend (not including any special dividends) divided by their price.
The index methodology screens the universe in several ways. For inclusion, a stock must have paid dividends in each of the previous three years; last year’s dividend must be equal to or greater than its three-year average; its five-year average payout ratio must be less than 85%, or must be less than 1.5 times the payout ratio of the corresponding DJGI country index, whichever is smaller; and it must pass a screen for minimum trading volume. Once those screens are run, the top 30 stocks by dividend yield are selected.
The index is formally reviewed on an annual basis. To limit turnover, existing names stay in the index until their yield rank falls to 60th or lower. No more than 15 companies can come from any one country, and individual security weights are capped at 15%.
45.8% of the index was in the top 10 names at the end of April. There was a heavy tilt towards Australia, a 46.4% weighting. After that were Singapore at 18.3%, Japan at 12.8%, Hong Kong at 12.0%, and New Zealand at 10.4%. Top sectors were Financials, Telecommunications, and Consumer Services, with respective weights of 24.7%, 23.3%, and 17.6%. The top position, at 7.4%, was Telecom Corp of New Zealand.
The fund uses physical replication to try to capture the performance of its benchmark, owning – to the extent possible and efficient – shares in the underlying constituents in the same weights as those of the index. In certain circumstances the fund may also use derivatives to achieve its objectives. The fund is domiciled in Germany and has the Euro as its base currency. At the time of writing it had assets of €226 million.
There is no indication the fund has recently engaged in securities lending activity.
The fund’s total expense ratio (TER) is 0.31%, which is generally cheaper than the alternatives for similar exposure.
Other costs potentially borne by the unitholder but not included in the total expense ratio include transaction costs on the infrequent occasions when the underlying holdings change, and bid-ask spreads and brokerage fees when buy and sell orders are placed for ETF shares.
To get exposure to high-yielding Asian equities, an alternative to this product is db x-trackers MSCI Asia ex-Japan High Dividend Yield Index ETF, which gives exposure to both developed and emerging markets within Asia. Other alternatives for developed market exposure within the region, that don’t target high dividend yields, include Amundi ETF MSCI Pacific ex-Japan, UBS-ETF MSCI Pacific (ex-Japan), and HSBC MSCI Pacific ex-Japan. Of these, the fund with the lowest TER is the iShares product.