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Yield-Generating Utilities ETFs Shine in a Murky Market


While momentum stocks have been seemingly locked in a race to the bottom, utilities sector exchange traded funds have been steadily strengthening, with one Guggenheim offering breaking out to an all-time high Tuesday.

The Guggenheim S&P Equal Weight Utilities ETF (RYU) was around $70.3 per share. The fund has been steadily strengthening over the past month, breaking above its previous all-time high set in April 2013.

The utilities sector  has been the best performing sector so far this year, with RYU rising 11.4% year-to-date, compared to the S&P 500 index’s 0.4% decline so far this year.

The sector has benefited from increased residential and commercial demand during the dead of winter as back-to-back polar vortex storms battered north-eastern states. [Cold Outside Means Warmth for Utilities ETFs]

“Many investors have been drawn to the utilities sector over the last decade-plus, as utilities companies have benefited from strong residential and commercial demand for electricity and have enjoyed cheap debt financing to fund capital projects,” according to Morningstar analyst Robert Goldsborough. [Other ETFs From Utilities Strength]

Moreover, the utilities sector is benefiting from declining Treasury yields.

“Investors have viewed utilities companies almost as a hybrid between bonds and stocks–they can’t offer the same growth as equities, but nonetheless they are very stable and very appealing because of their dividend yields,” Goldsborough added.

The Guggenheim Equal Weight Utilities ETF offers a 3.34% 12-month yield, whereas yields on the  benchmark 10-year Treasuries have dipped to 2.63% from around 3.0% at the beginning of the year.

Like the name suggests, RYU tracks an index that equally weights its utility company holdings.

Additionally, market-capitalization weighted utilities sector ETFs options include the Utilities Select Sector SPDR (XLU) , Vanguard Utilities ETF (VPU) and iShares U.S. Utilities ETF (IDU) .

VPU takes on a broader group of 77 utility companies, compared to XLU’s 30 holdings. The Vanguard offering is also slightly cheaper with a 0.14% expense ratio, compared to XLU’s 0.16% expense ratio. The majority of IDU’s holdings also overlap with VPU’s components, but IDU has a 0.46% expense ratio.

Looking at 12-month yields, VPU has a 3.47% yield, XLU has a 3.55% yield and IDU has a 3.1% yield.

Guggenheim S&P Equal Weight Utilities ETF

For more information on the utilities sector, visit our utilities category.

Max Chen contributed to this article.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Mr. Lydon serves as an independent trustee of certain mutual funds and ETFs that are managed by Guggenheim Investments; however, any opinions or forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Mr. Lydon and not those of Guggenheim Funds, Guggenheim Investments, Guggenheim Specialized Products, LLC or any of their affiliates. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.