Global utilities offer diversity, stability and income


September 17, 2021


September 17, 2021


September 17, 2021

In a low interest rate world, investors looking for a steady, safe income along with potential capital growth have turned to utilities.

But while many Canadian investors stick to utilities with a domestic focus, or one that includes Canadian and US companies, Harvest Portfolios Group captures a broader opportunity. It has created a global utilities fund that includes leaders in Canada, the US and Europe.

Almost half of the companies (47%) in the Harvest Equal Weight Global Utilities Income ETF (TSX: HUTL) are European utilities offering  access to the biggest and most critical infrastructure assets in those  markets.

Utilities are vital to the economy, providing basic energy, power and telecom needs. They are the underlying systems we depend on to improve productivity and stimulate growth. So, they tend to be large and are often monopolies or near-monopolies.

This means limited competition and a high degree of regulation, but steady cash flows from  large, stable customer bases. Everyone needs electricity or natural gas to heat homes or factories whether the economy is strong or in recession. We expect our internet connection to be fast and our cellphones to have service all the time.

Investments in these sectors are unlikely to yield large short-term gains, but dividends tend to grow over time. That’s quite attractive in a low yield world.

The Harvest Equal Weight Global Utilities Income ETF was launched in January, 2019  and invests in an equally weighted portfolio of 30 companies. These include telecommunications, oil and gas storage and energy transportation. The ETF is designed to provide a consistent and competitive monthly income with an opportunity for growth.

The sector weights are about 50% utilities, 35% telecoms and 15% pipelines and the fund benefits from the Harvest covered call strategy to enhance yield. Harvest is the  second largest option writing firm in Canada with eight of its 13 ETF’s using option writing strategies.

The strategy involves selling a portion of the potential rise in stock price in exchange for a fee. The fee becomes part of the return which limits the capital gain slightly, but it also acts as a cushion if share prices fall. Here is a more detailed explanation.

Some of the holdings in the ETF such as Telus, BCE, Enbridge and TC Energy, are household name for Canadians. Europeans will be as familiar with some of the other names in the ETF. They include:

Vodafone Group Plc: This British multinational telecommunications company is the largest cell phone and fixed network operator in Europe. It also has operations in the Middle East, Africa and Asia and is one of the largest telecom providers in India. It employs 94,000 people and has 330 million customers. Its latest full year revenues were US $51.2 billion and a market capitalization of US $44.8 billion.  

Fortum Oyj: While based in Finland, Fortum Oyj generates electricity in Germany, the UK, Russia, the Netherlands and the Baltic Rim area. It is Finland’s largest company and operates power plants, including co-generation plants and offers waste management and recycling services. Fortum had 2020 revenues of €49 billion (US $41.6 B) and a market capitalization of US $23.2 billion.

Deutsche Telekom AG: This German company headquartered in Bonn is one of the world’s largest integrated telecommunications companies, with 242 million mobile customers. It operates in more than 50 countries and employs 226,000 people. It had revenue of €101 billion  in 2020  US $85.5 B) of which about 66 percent was generated outside Germany. Its market capitalization is US 98.3 B.

To find out how your clients can benefit from this strategy call 1.866.998.8298.

For more on Harvest ETFs click here.


For Information Purposes Only. All comments, opinions and views expressed are of a general nature and should not be considered as advice and/or a recommendation to purchase or sell the mentioned securities or used to engage in personal investment strategies.

You will usually pay brokerage fees to your dealer if you purchase or sell units of the Fund(s) on the TSX. If the units are purchased or sold on the TSX, investors may pay more than the current net asset value when buying units of the Fund(s) and may receive less than the current net asset value when selling them. There are ongoing fees and expenses associated with owning units of an investment fund. Investment funds are not guaranteed, their values change frequently and past performance may not be repeated. An investment fund must prepare disclosure documents that contain key information about the fund. You can find more detailed information about the fund in these documents.

Certain statements in the Harvest Blog are forward looking Forward-looking statements (“FLS”) are statements that are predictive in nature, depend upon or refer to future events or conditions, or that include words such as “may,” “will,” “should,” “could,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “intend,” “plan,” “believe,” or “estimate,” or other similar expressions. Statements that look forward in time or include anything other than historical information are subject to risks and uncertainties, and actual results, actions or events could differ materially from those set forth in the FLS.

FLS are not guarantees of future performance and are by their nature based on numerous assumptions, which include, amongst other things, that (i) the Fund can attract and maintain investors and have sufficient capital under management to effect their investment strategies, (ii) the investment strategies will produce the results intended by the portfolio managers, and (iii) the markets will react and perform in a manner consistent with the investment strategies. Although the FLS contained herein are based upon what the portfolio manager believe to be reasonable assumptions, the portfolio manager cannot assure that actual results will be consistent with these FLS.

Unless required by applicable law, Harvest Portfolios Group Inc. does not undertake, and specifically disclaim, any intention or obligation to update or revise any FLS, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.