Traditional, market capitalization-weighted funds command the bulk of the attention among utilities exchange traded funds, but there are alternative weighs of accessing the sector with ETFs, including with the First Trust Utilities AlphaDEX Fund (NYSEArca: FXU), a smart beta spin on utilities.
Like the other AlphaDEX funds, FXU is “based “on growth factors including three, six and 12-month price appreciation, sales to price and one year sales growth, and, separately, on value factors including book value to price, cash flow to price and return on assets,” according to First Trust.
Along with the intense criticism of smart beta has come a reluctance by some to acknowledge the rapid growth of some of the issuers of those products. When it comes to the growth of individual ETF issuers, many industry observers choose to focus exclusively on Vanguard. Doing so ignores impressive growth by other issuers, including First Trust. [The Truth Behind the ETF Race]
Utilities stocks and ETFs are extremely sensitive to changes in interest rates. Still, some investors see opportunity with rate-sensitive assets such as FXU and real estate ETFs, noting that 10-year yields are overbought and sentiment against the likes of FXU is at bearish extremes, which could create opportunity from the long side with the utilities sector. [Rethinking Rate Sensitive ETFs]
Although utilities stocks and ETFs are vulnerable to the notion of higher interest rates, how the group performs after the Fed actually boosts borrowing cost is another, surprisingly positive matter.