Utilities ETFs were the only U.S. sector in the green during Monday’s 100-point Dow sell-off with some analysts saying the sector’s recent plunge on concerns over tax hikes is overdone.
Utilities Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLU) was up 1.5% in morning action. It was the only one of the nine Sector SPDR ETFs that managed to post a gain.
XLU has been punished in the wake of the presidential election on fears the utilities sector will be hurt if the lower 15% tax on qualified dividends is allowed to expire at the end of the year. [Utilities ETFs Turn Negative for Year on Dividend Tax Worries]
“There is clearly concern among many that tax policy in the U.S. concerning dividends will change for the worse for holders of equities that traditionally spin out hefty dividends, and it is likely no coincidence that this sector has taken it on the chin following President Obama’s re-election,” says Paul Weisbruch at Street One Financial.
Utilities ETFs are also seen as a defensive portfolio play since the industry is known for its stability and above-average dividends. [Utilities ETF Plunges on ‘Tremendous’ Volume, Dividend Tax Concerns]
Heading into Monday’s utilities sector rally, XLU was down 5.5% for the trailing three months, versus a 1% gain for SPDR S&P 500 (NYSEArca: SPY), according to Morningstar.
“In the long-run, though, the warnings about dividend taxes may be overblown,” ETF Base said in a commentary over the weekend. “Relative to corporate bond yields, utilities are undervalued. Dividend yields in utility companies are on par with investment grade corporate debt yields. This goes against historical norms – utility yields usually came at a discount to corporate debt yields.”