Dividends have interested market participants and theorists since the origins of modern financial theory. As such, many researchers have investigated the various topics related to dividends and dividend-paying firms. Previous studies by S&P Dow Jones Indices have shown that over a long-term investment horizon, dividend-paying constituents of the S&P 500 have outperformed the non-dividend payers and the overall broad market on a risk-adjusted basis.1 In recent years, the increasing amount of academic and practitioner research demonstrates that dividend yield is a compensated risk factor and has historically earned excess returns over a market-cap-weighted benchmark. When combined with other factors such as volatility, quality, momentum, value, and size, dividend yield strategies can potentially offer exposure to systematic sources of return.
In this paper, we show that dividend yield is an important component of total return. We also highlight pertinent characteristics of the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats, an index that seeks to measure the performance of the S&P 500 constituents that have increased their dividend payouts for 25 consecutive years. We show that the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats possesses desirable risk/return characteristics, offering higher risk-adjusted returns and downside protection than the broad-based benchmark. In addition, our analysis shows that the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats is sector diversified and displays growth and value characteristics.