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Should First Trust Morningstar Dividend Leaders ETF (FDL) Be on Your Investing Radar?

Looking for broad exposure to the Large Cap Value segment of the US equity market? You should consider the First Trust Morningstar Dividend Leaders ETF (FDL), a passively managed exchange traded fund launched on 03/09/2006.

The fund is sponsored by First Trust Advisors. It has amassed assets over $4.72 billion, making it one of the average sized ETFs attempting to match the Large Cap Value segment of the US equity market.

Why Large Cap Value

Large cap companies usually have a market capitalization above $10 billion. Considered a more stable option, large cap companies boast more predictable cash flows and are less volatile than their mid and small cap counterparts.

Value stocks have lower than average price-to-earnings and price-to-book ratios. They also have lower than average sales and earnings growth rates. Looking at their long-term performance, value stocks have outperformed growth stocks in almost all markets. They are however likely to underperform growth stocks in strong bull markets.


Since cheaper funds tend to produce better results than more expensive funds, assuming all other factors remain equal, it is important for investors to pay attention to an ETF's expense ratio.

Annual operating expenses for this ETF are 0.45%, putting it on par with most peer products in the space.

It has a 12-month trailing dividend yield of 3.96%.

Sector Exposure and Top Holdings

It is important to delve into an ETF's holdings before investing despite the many upsides to these kinds of funds like diversified exposure, which minimizes single stock risk. And, most ETFs are very transparent products that disclose their holdings on a daily basis.

This ETF has heaviest allocation to the Energy sector--about 21.30% of the portfolio. Financials and Consumer Staples round out the top three.

Looking at individual holdings, Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM) accounts for about 9.88% of total assets, followed by Abbvie Inc. (ABBV) and Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ).

The top 10 holdings account for about 56.57% of total assets under management.

Performance and Risk

FDL seeks to match the performance of the Morningstar Dividend Leaders Index before fees and expenses. The Morningstar Dividend Leaders Index consists of stocks listed on one of the three major exchanges, NYSE, NYSE Amex or Nasdaq, that have shown dividend consistency and dividend sustainability.

The ETF has lost about -6.67% so far this year and is down about -8.11% in the last one year (as of 05/25/2023). In the past 52-week period, it has traded between $32.13 and $39.18.

The ETF has a beta of 0.86 and standard deviation of 17.25% for the trailing three-year period, making it a medium risk choice in the space. With about 98 holdings, it effectively diversifies company-specific risk.


First Trust Morningstar Dividend Leaders ETF holds a Zacks ETF Rank of 2 (Buy), which is based on expected asset class return, expense ratio, and momentum, among other factors. Because of this, FDL is a great option for investors seeking exposure to the Style Box - Large Cap Value segment of the market. There are other additional ETFs in the space that investors could consider as well.

The iShares Russell 1000 Value ETF (IWD) and the Vanguard Value ETF (VTV) track a similar index. While iShares Russell 1000 Value ETF has $48.36 billion in assets, Vanguard Value ETF has $98.54 billion. IWD has an expense ratio of 0.18% and VTV charges 0.04%.


An increasingly popular option among retail and institutional investors, passively managed ETFs offer low costs, transparency, flexibility, and tax efficiency; they are also excellent vehicles for long term investors.

To learn more about this product and other ETFs, screen for products that match your investment objectives and read articles on latest developments in the ETF investing universe, please visit Zacks ETF Center.

Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report

First Trust Morningstar Dividend Leaders ETF (FDL): ETF Research Reports

Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM) : Free Stock Analysis Report

Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) : Free Stock Analysis Report

AbbVie Inc. (ABBV) : Free Stock Analysis Report

Vanguard Value ETF (VTV): ETF Research Reports

iShares Russell 1000 Value ETF (IWD): ETF Research Reports

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Zacks Investment Research