Exchange-traded funds offer a convenient way to invest in sectors or niches that interest you. If you expect the utility industry to thrive over time as our global demand for energy keeps growing, the Vanguard Utilities ETF
ETFs often sport lower expense ratios than their mutual fund cousins. The Vanguard ETF's expense ratio -- its annual fee -- is a very low 0.19%. (Vanguard is known for low fees.) The ETF was recently yielding 3.7%, as well.
This ETF has a mixed performance record, roughly tying the S&P 500 over the past five years, but underperforming it over the past three. It trounced it in 2011, though. As with most investments, of course, we can't expect outstanding performances in every quarter or year. Investors with conviction need to wait for their holdings to deliver.
With an ultra low turnover rate of 6%, this fund isn't frantically and frequently rejiggering its holdings, as many funds do.
What's in it?
Several utility companies had strong performances over the past year. Duke Energy
Other companies didn't do as well last year, but could see their fortunes change in the coming years. Yielding 5.3% recently and up 5% over the past year, PPL
Gaining 3%, Public Service Enterprise Group
Nuclear power giant Exelon
The big picture
Demand for energy isn't going away anytime soon. A well-chosen ETF can grant you instant diversification across any industry or group of companies -- and make investing in and profiting from it that much easier.
If you think that steep oil prices aren't going away anytime soon, either, check out our special free report, "3 Stocks for $100 Oil," and meet some compelling contenders for your portfolio.
Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian, whom you can follow on Twitter, holds no position in any company mentioned. Click here to see her holdings and a short bio. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of and writing a covered straddle position in Exelon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.