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Should You Invest in the Vanguard Utilities ETF (VPU)?

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The Vanguard Utilities ETF (VPU - Free Report) 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.

Passively managed ETFs are becoming increasingly popular with institutional as well as retail investors due to their low cost, transparency, flexibility and tax efficiency. They are excellent vehicles for long term investors.

Sector ETFs also provide investors access to a broad group of companies in particular sectors that offer low risk and diversified exposure. Utilities - Broad is one of the 16 broad Zacks sectors within the Zacks Industry classification. It is currently ranked 12, placing it in bottom 25%.

Index Details

The fund is sponsored by Vanguard. It has amassed assets over $6.12 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.


Since cheaper funds tend to produce better results than more expensive funds, assuming all other factors remain equal, it is important for investors to pay attention to an ETF's expense ratio.

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 2.74%.

Sector Exposure and Top Holdings

It is important to delve into an ETF's holdings before investing despite the many upsides to these kinds of funds like diversified exposure, which minimizes single stock risk. 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 98.80% of the portfolio.

Looking at individual holdings, Nextera Energy Inc. (NEE - Free Report) accounts for about 13.56% of total assets, followed by Duke Energy Corp. (DUK - Free Report) and Southern Co. (SO - Free Report) .

The top 10 holdings account for about 54.77% of total assets under management.

Performance and Risk

The ETF has added roughly 1.19% so far this year and is up about 12.29% in the last one year (as of 05/20/2022). In that past 52-week period, it has traded between $138.76 and $166.95.

The ETF has a beta of 0.47 and standard deviation of 25.16% 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 reasonable 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 - Free Report) tracks MSCI USA IMI Utilities Index and the Utilities Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLU - Free Report) tracks Utilities Select Sector Index. Fidelity MSCI Utilities Index ETF has $1.40 billion in assets, Utilities Select Sector SPDR ETF has $15.84 billion. FUTY has an expense ratio of 0.08% and XLU charges 0.10%.

Bottom Line

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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