The month of August has historically been a poor month for equities. Nevertheless, exchange traded fund investors may do well with focusing on more conservative sectors while growth sectors languish.

According to data analytics platform Kensho, August has been the worst month of the year for the S&P 500, with the indexing falling 0.8% on average in August since 1987, reports Deirdre Bosa for CNBC. [Sector ETF Ideas for August: Getting Conservative]

For those who are wary of a potential pullback in the S&P 500 index this month, there are a number of bearish or inverse ETF options with varying levels of leveraged exposure to capitalize off a weakening S&P 500. The ProShares Short S&P500 (NYSEArca: SH) takes a simple inverse or -100% daily performance of the S&P 500 index. Alternatively, for the more aggressive trader, leveraged options include the ProShares UltraShort S&P500 ETF (NYSEArca: SDS), which tries to reflect the -2x or -200% daily performance of the S&P 500, the Direxion Daily S&P 500 Bear 3x Shares (NYSEArca: SPXS), which takes the -3x or -300% daily performance of the S&P 500, and ProShares UltraPro Short S&P 500 ETF (NYSEArca: SPXU), which also takes the -300% daily performance of the S&P 500. [Inverse S&P 500 ETF Ideas to Hedge a Correction]

However, sifting through market segments, investors may find that utility stocks typically outperform during the August weakness. For the month of August, the sector has produced a positive return over 75% of the time and returned 2.5% or more on average.

Investors who are interested in the defensive play can take a look at a number ETF options, including the Utilities Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLU), Vanguard Utilities ETF (NYSEArca: VPU) and iShares U.S. Utilities ETF (NYSEArca: IDU).

On the other hand, technology stocks have consistently underperformed the broader markets, with the S&P 500 IT Index trading lower more than half the time in August, declining 0.5% on average over the past 25 years.