BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Institutional investors, the so-called smart money, have been doing more buying than selling in only one industry this year: telecommunications services.
That may well be because four of the eight companies that make up the sector in the S&P 500 Index are the ultimate defensive plays if you want to stay in stocks. They pay huge dividends and have inimitable franchises that put a floor under their share prices if the broader equity market continues to fall.
What's more, as the U.S. economy accelerates next year and in 2013, as many economists forecast, those same companies will become even more dominant. Demand is already exploding for new and more capable communications needs, ranging from mobile-phone applications to more Wi-Fi accessible spots.
Given their current monopoly in some services, such as landline and cable TV, the companies aren't likely to lose customers. That means steadily growing cash flows, which will continue to support their dividends.The S&P 500 Index is down 7.1% this year, but up 2.3% over the past 12 months. Here are snapshots of the four telecommunications services firms that have seen more institutional buyers than sellers this year, as tracked by Bloomberg: