THE LEX COLUMN: Traditional stocks won’t save wealthy Brits from Brexit
When running for cover be sure your shelter is sound
Frightened animals hide in bolt holes. Worried equity investors seek sanctuary in defensive stocks. The problem for Britons menaced by Brexit chaos is that few of these traditional wealth shelters work any more. Take utilities. Household demand for electricity and water will not be altered greatly by any Brexit-induced funk. Yet the government is pushing for heftier investment in sustainable energy. And Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wants to nationalise the sector. Utilities pay chunky dividends. SSE and United Utilities sport yields of about 8% and 5%, for example. Yet, such payouts may evaporate if the regulator decides they show competition is weak and power bills are too high. Since the referendum, the FTSE utility index has lagged behind the FTSE 100 by 33%. What about outsourcers? The government used to be the safest possible customer, since it can always raise taxes to pay bills. Yet, many private groups have struggled with the complexity of services and with politically driven...