Dialing up Safety With a Boring Sector ETF

Due to a volatile start to the year for equities, it is not surprising that investors are favoring conservative sectors, such as consumer staples and utilities, and that the exchange traded funds tracking those groups are proving less bad than their higher beta counterparts.

Investors might also want to consider the telecommunications sector, the S&P 500’s smallest sector weight and ETFs such as the Vanguard Telecommunication Services ETF (NYSEArca: VOX). Helped by Dow component Verizon (NYSE: VZ), VOX rose 0.2% in January while broader equity benchmarks slid.

Verizon, the best-performing member of the Dow Jones Industrial Average to start 2016, is VOX’s second-largest holding at a weight of 23.4% as of the end of December. Verizon combines with former Dow member AT&T (NYSE: T) to represent 47% of VOX’s weight.

“Both Verizon and AT&T are often referred to as widow and orphan stocks — stable companies that pay reliable (and usually very big) dividends. These are stocks that conservative investors can depend upon for a steady dose of income even if the sky may seem to be falling. (By the way, it’s not.) You could say that AT&T and Verizon are like bonds for people who want something not as dowdy as a Treasury. They’re bond-ish,” reports CNN Money.

The trailing 12-month dividend yield on VOX is 3.55%, or 162 basis points above Friday’s closing yield on 10-year U.S. Treasurys. International telecom stocks and exchange traded funds represent an option for yield-starved investors that are also looking to reduce their exposure to rising U.S. Treasury yields. That theme can be accessed with the iShares Global Telecomm ETF (NYSEArca: IXP).