Make Money in Big, Global Dividends the Easy Way

Exchange-traded funds offer a convenient way to invest in sectors or niches that interest you. If you'd like to fill your portfolio with some solid dividend-paying stocks from around the world, the First Trust Dow Jones Global Select Dividend Index Fund ETF (NYS: FGD) could save you a lot of trouble. Instead of trying to figure out which companies will perform best, you can use this ETF to invest in a lot of them simultaneously. The ETF recently yielded 4.8%.

The basics
ETFs often sport lower expense ratios than their mutual fund cousins. The First Trust ETF's expense ratio -- its annual fee -- is 0.60%. The fund is fairly small, too, so if you're thinking of buying, beware of occasionally large spreads between its bid and ask prices. Consider using a limit order if you want to buy in.

This ETF has performed rather well, beating its benchmark handily over the past three years. Still, it's also very young, with just a few years on the books. As with most investments, of course, we can't expect outstanding performances in every quarter or year. Investors with conviction need to wait for their holdings to deliver.

With a low turnover rate of 22%, this fund isn't frantically and frequently rejiggering its holdings, as many funds do.

What's in it?
Plenty of global dividend payers had strong performances over the past year. U.S.-based CenterPoint Energy (NYS: CNP) , for example, gained 11%, and yields about 4%. Fitch recently upped the company's rating, citing its debt reduction and relatively stable, regulated business. The company is also a customer-satisfaction leader.

Other companies didn't do as well last year, but could see their fortunes change in the coming years. CenturyLink (NYS: CTL) gained just 1%, but has been yielding more than 7%. America's third-largest telecom company, it sports a heavy debt load, though it has been refinancing that. The company has been busy, merging with Qwest and swallowing cloud company Savvis. It aims to grow revenue and cut costs, and is investing in fiber and broadband.

Sinking 8% over the past year, TE Connectivity (NYS: TEL) , based in Switzerland (with executive offices in Pennsylvania), recently yielded 2.8%. Formerly Tyco Electronics, it's a networking and electronics efficiency specialist, and is poised for long-term success as companies boost their properties' efficiency. Management recently pointed out that the company is improving its own efficiency and productivity, too, generating generous free cash flow, expanding in emerging markets such as China, growing earnings by double digits, and capitalizing on broadband acceleration.

France Telecom (NYS: FTE) , down 34%, has recently sported a whopping dividend yield of more than 14%, although that's slated to come down in the next year as cash flow falls. The company has been pressured by a competitor, but many view the damage as done and the stock as a bargain now. Even after the cut, the company will still have an attractive payout. Europe's troubles have caused headaches for the company, but it also has significant business in Latin America, which is growing more briskly.

The big picture
A well-chosen ETF can grant you instant diversification across any industry or group of companies -- and make investing in and profiting from it that much easier.

If these dividends don't whet your whistle sufficiently, see which ones our analysts recommend in our special free report, "Secure Your Future With 9 Rock-Solid Dividend Stocks."

At the time thisarticle was published LongtimeFool contributorSelena Maranjian,whom you canfollow on Twitter, owns shares of France Telecom, but she holds no other position in any company mentioned.Click hereto see her holdings and a short bio.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of France Telecom. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days.

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