Why Yield-Hungry Investors Are Turning to Utility ETFs | ETF Trends

The yield on 10-year Treasuries dropped back below 3% today, and when rates eventually rise, investors will start to loss some of their principal. This unappealing aspect of the markets has some investors looking at utility stocks and related exchange traded funds (ETFs) for higher yield returns.

Individual large utilities offer higher yields, but they are subject to individual equity risk, says iStockAnalyst. But, there are diversified utility ETFs that spread the risk and still provide 4% to 5% yields.

According to our ETF Analyzer, the three largest utilities ETFs are:

  • Utilities Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLU)
  • Vanguard Utilities (NYSEArca: VPU)
  • iShares Dow Jones U.S. Utilities Sector Index Fund (NYSEArca: IDU)

Sorting by yield in the Analyzer, each ETF has an appealing yield of 3.8%-3.9%. The top-yielding utility ETF right now is SPDR S&P International Utilities Sector (NYSEArca: IPU), which yields 9%.

Utility ETFs offer yields that are higher than conventional income asset classes, with the added benefit that their overall index volatility tends to be lower than that of the broader market. Additionally, this asset class has the potential for capital appreciation as more investors come into this area of the market. Over time, utilities usually incrementally increase their dividend payouts as their earnings grow. [The Appeal of Utility ETFs in Troubled Markets.]

Utilities have generally been perceived as a safe have for the risk-averse since utilities are a necessary aspect of everyday life, with the added benefit that the government backs it.