Beware Not-So-Safe Havens
XLU's PE-to-growth multiple -- a metric used to gauge how expensive future earnings are -- is close to 4x right now. The same metric for the broad market is just above 1x, indicating a huge premium baked into utilities. A sector with long-term earnings growth expected to come in at around 3% isn't worth the huge multiple being afforded to XLU. This ETF has thrived thanks to major interest in lowering volatility, but it hasn't earned the appreciation through commensurate earnings growth. The unearned premium will ultimately deflate, which makes utilities ETFs such as XLU a dangerous place to seek shelter now.If you're fed up with the volatility and would prefer to wait until the European debt drama subsides, it makes more sense to pull risk off the table completely. Don't be tempted by the historical appeal of gold, or the perceived stability of utilities. Climb into cash with a zero risk fund such as PIMCO's MINT or State Street's BIL. In the current environment, gold and utilities are flawed options that could serve to only deepen your losses.
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