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Low volatility ETFs are beating the market this year. Here are the stocks they have in common


Volatility reared its head again in late August, as stocks gave back a big chunk of their summer rally and many investors looked for a quiet corner of the market to hide out. The Cboe Volatility Index, sometimes called Wall Street’s fear gauge, spiked above 27 this week after trading below 20 as recently as Aug. 18. That move and an uncertain environment for the global economy has led many Wall Street pros to predict that volatility is here to stay. Angelo Kourkafas, investment strategist at Edward Jones, said the Fed’s fight against inflation, the energy crisis facing Europe and China’s choppy recovery from the Covid pandemic are reasons that could drive continued volatility in the months ahead. “I think some of the tail risks have actually lessened some, with inflation down in the last month, but clearly the coast is not clear yet,” Kourkafas said. These conditions could lead investors to look toward low volatility options, which have beaten the market handily this year. Three large ETFs — the Vanguard U.S. Minimum Volatility ETF , the Invesco S & P 500 Low Volatility ETF, and Franklin U.S. Low Volatility High Dividend Index ETF — are down between 5% and 9% this year, compared with a 16.8% decline for the S & P 500. The funds each have slightly different methodologies, but they do have 15 stocks in common. Source: FactSet Some of the best performing names on the list of shared stocks are utilities, like American Electric Power and Consolidated Edison . Utility stocks tend to pay consistent dividends, even during recessions, making them an attractive bet during downturns. However, the high inflation environment does create a risk for these stocks, as it might make it more difficult to get rate increases approved by government officials that often oversee utilities. Another winner on the list is snack and cereal maker Kellogg , which has jumped nearly 14% year to date. It announced plans in June to split into three separate companies by the end of 2023. Even some of the worst performers on the list have above average dividend yields. Verizon , for example, sports a payout of above 6%, while Colgate-Palmolive comes in at roughly 2.4%.

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