The Vanguard Utilities ETF (VPU) was launched on 01/26/2004, and is a passively managed exchange traded fund designed to offer broad exposure to the Utilities – Broad segment of the equity market.
While an excellent vehicle for long term investors, passively managed ETFs are a popular choice among institutional and retail investors due to their low costs, transparency, flexibility, and tax efficiency.
Additionally, sector ETFs offer convenient ways to gain low risk and diversified exposure to a broad group of companies in particular sectors. Utilities – Broad is one of the 16 broad Zacks sectors within the Zacks Industry classification. It is currently ranked 3, placing it in top 19%.
The fund is sponsored by Vanguard. It has amassed assets over $5.10 billion, making it one of the largest ETFs attempting to match the performance of the Utilities – Broad segment of the equity market. VPU seeks to match the performance of the MSCI US Investable Market Utilities 25/50 Index before fees and expenses.
The MSCI US Investable Market Utilities 25/50 Index comprises of stocks of large, mid-size, and small U.S. companies within the utilities sector.
Expense ratios are an important factor in the return of an ETF and in the long term, cheaper funds can significantly outperform their more expensive counterparts, other things remaining the same.
Annual operating expenses for this ETF are 0.10%, making it one of the least expensive products in the space.
It has a 12-month trailing dividend yield of 3.33%.
Sector Exposure and Top Holdings
While ETFs offer diversified exposure, which minimizes single stock risk, a deep look into a fund’s holdings is a valuable exercise. And, most ETFs are very transparent products that disclose their holdings on a daily basis.
This ETF has heaviest allocation in the Utilities sector–about 99.50% of the portfolio.
Looking at individual holdings, Nextera Energy Inc. (NEE) accounts for about 13.30% of total assets, followed by Duke Energy Corp. (DUK) and Southern Co. (SO).
The top 10 holdings account for about 52.62% of total assets under management.
Performance and Risk
The ETF has lost about -7.11% and is down about -9.70% so far this year and in the past one year (as of 06/01/2023), respectively. VPU has traded between $134.20 and $169.41 during this last 52-week period.
The ETF has a beta of 0.54 and standard deviation of 18.12% for the trailing three-year period, making it a medium risk choice in the space. With about 64 holdings, it effectively diversifies company-specific risk.
Vanguard Utilities ETF carries a Zacks ETF Rank of 3 (Hold), which is based on expected asset class return, expense ratio, and momentum, among other factors. Thus, VPU is a good option for those seeking exposure to the Utilities/Infrastructure ETFs area of the market. Investors might also want to consider some other ETF options in the space.
Fidelity MSCI Utilities Index ETF (FUTY) tracks MSCI USA IMI Utilities Index and the Utilities Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLU) tracks Utilities Select Sector Index. Fidelity MSCI Utilities Index ETF has $1.97 billion in assets, Utilities Select Sector SPDR ETF has $15.34 billion. FUTY has an expense ratio of 0.08% and XLU charges 0.10%.
To learn more about this product and other ETFs, screen for products that match your investment objectives and read articles on latest developments in the ETF investing universe, please visit Zacks ETF Center.
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