Utilities

Utilities are companies involved in providing electricity, gas, water and similar services to consumers and businesses. The sector includes firms that produce these services (such as companies that operate power plants) and those that deliver it (such as companies that operate electricity transmission networks).

“Upstream” energy companies (such as those that extract gas from the ground) are not utilities. Demand for the services offered by utility companies is generally not greatly affected by the state of the economy, so profits tend to be relatively stable. Consequently, this sector is usually considered a fairly steady, defensive investment.

However, utility companies need to invest in and maintain infrastructure, such as water treatment plants and gas pipeline networks, which may require significant capital expenditure. This is sometimes funded through high levels of debt, meaning that utility profits can be sensitive to changes in interest rates.

Companies in other industries that also have predictable demand for their services, steady cash flows and slow growth may be referred to as “utility-like” to imply that they are similarly unexciting but safe investments.

Merryn

Claim 12 issues of MoneyWeek (plus much more) for just £12!

Let MoneyWeek show you how to profit, whatever the outcome of the upcoming general election.

Start your no-obligation trial today and get up to speed on:

  • The latest shifts in the economy…
  • The ongoing Brexit negotiations…
  • The new tax rules…
  • Trump’s protectionist policies…

Plus lots more.

We’ll show you what it all means for your money.

Plus, the moment you begin your trial, we’ll rush you over THREE free investment reports:

‘How to escape the most hated tax in Britain’: Inheritance tax hits many unsuspecting families. Our report tells how to pass on up to £2m of your money to your family without the taxman getting a look in.

‘How to profit from a Trump presidency’: The election of Donald Trump was a watershed moment for the US economy. This report details the sectors our analysts think will boom from Trump’s premiership, and gives specific investments you can buy to profit.

‘Best shares to watch in 2017’: Includes the transcript from our roundtable panel of investment professionals – and 12 tips they’re currently tipping. The report also analyses key assets, including property, oil and the countries whose stock markets currently offer the most value.