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Income plus growth - this ETF delivers both

It's not easy to find a security that delivers a high yield while offering strong growth potential. But here's one that was recommended to me by my broker and I now own shares of it myself. Here are the details.

First Asset Tech Giants Covered Call ETF (CAD Hedged) (TSX: TXF)


The security: This ETF is run by First Asset Investment Management. It provides exposure to the 25 largest high-tech companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq. That includes names like Apple, Alphabet (which is the parent company of Google), Yahoo, Cisco Systems, IBM, Microsoft, Facebook, etc.

Why I like it: It's not often we have an opportunity to invest in technology stocks and earn decent income at the same time. This ETF offers that alternative, using covered call option writing to generate the extra cash flow needed to sustain the high distribution. Up to 25 per cent of the portfolio’s securities will have call options written on them at any one time.

Key facts: The ETF was launched in October 2011, so we have a history of over five years to work with. Total net asset value is almost $130 million. The MER is 0.65 per cent.

Performance: The high-tech sector has been very strong in recent years and the performance of this fund reflects that. The ETF gained 33.85 per cent over the 12 months to Jan. 31 and showed a five-year average annual compounded rate of return of 14.15 per cent to that point.

Risks: High-tech is a riskier sector than, say, utilities. However, the Wild West days of the late 1990s are well behind us. These are all mature companies with strong cash flow and good growth potential. However, although the overall p/e ratio of the portfolio is 20.84, some of the stocks are expensive and would be vulnerable to declines in the event of a market correction. For that reason, I consider this to be a higher-risk security.

Distribution policy: Distributions are made quarterly, with the next one due in March. The distribution amount varies with the December’s payout at about $0.19 per unit. The EFT also makes an annual special distribution that is not paid in cash, but is reinvested in the fund. The resulting units are immediately consolidated so that the number of units held by each investor will not change. The 2016 special distribution was $0.39. Note that the yield is calculated on the cash distributions only.

Tax implications: Although you don’t receive the cash, the special distribution is taxable if it is received outside a registered plan. There will be an increase in the adjusted cost base. A significant percentage of the total distribution is tax-advantaged, in the form of return of capital or capital gains.

Who it's for: This ETF is suitable for investors who want more growth exposure in their portfolios and who are willing to accept the accompanying risk.

How to buy: The units trade on the TSX. There are 8.8 million shares outstanding, but on some days the volume is less than 10,000, so place a limit order and be patient.

Ask your broker if this ETF is suitable for your account.

This article originally appeared in Gordon Pape's Income Investor newsletter and was reprinted in The Globe and Mail. For more information and details on how to subscribe to The Income Investor, go to www.buildingwealth.ca/subscribe