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5 Mutual Funds to Get Defensive With

Where to put your money if you're convinced the bear is coming

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MFS Utilities Fund

There’s nothing exciting about utilities, but everyone knows the returns are steady. After all, utilities essentially are local monopolies, and that means predictable profits … and juicy dividends.

A smart way to play utilities in the mutual fund world is through the MFS Utilities (MUTF:MMUFX) fund, which boasts $4.6 billion in assets. Portfolio manager Maura Shaughnessy has been with the fund since 1992, and she definitely has a knack for finding investment opportunities. She also looks at utility-esque companies (like telecom operators), as well as firms in foreign markets.

Hence, the fund not only has familiar utility names like AES Corp. (NYSE:AES) and Sempra Energy (NYSE:SRE), but also telecom/Internet provider Virgin Media (NASDAQ:VMED), cable/Internet provider Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and Portuguese utility EDP-Energias de Portugal (PINK:EDPFY).

For the past decade, the annual average return is a sizzling 14.6%, and the fund outperformed the market by about 8 percentage points during the 2007-09 downturn. MMUFX also yields about 3%.

Expenses for the A Class shares are 1.04%, though it also charges a 5.75% front-end load fee. MMUFX is rated 4 stars.

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