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Looking for safety? Consider these reliable dividend investment trusts

If you’re looking for reliable income from defensive assets, then I would consider these two investment trusts.

Infrastructure and utilities

Infrastructure and utilities have been among the most popular defensive asset classes in recent years, attracting billions from sovereign wealth funds, pension companies and other institutions. As they earn stable long-dated cash flows from essential physical assets, infrastructure and utility investments can be useful for investors who are looking to generate reliable income.

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There are a number of domestically-focused infrastructure and utility stocks listed on the London Stock Exchange, but instead of just investing in the UK, why not consider diversifying your portfolio by investing in foreign infrastructure equities as well?

Emerging markets

One such fund which I’m keen on is the Utilico Emerging Markets Trust (LSE: UEM). It targets dividend-paying companies in the infrastructure and utility sectors in emerging markets.

Emerging markets are an attractive destination for infrastructure investments as many cash-strapped governments are fostering an attractive business environment for private capital and because returns have historically been higher than in developed markets.

Investing in such markets can be risky because of the higher volatility of equity prices compared to developed countries and added currency risks, but the fund is well-diversified by both sector and geography.

The Utilico fund seeks out companies and sectors displaying the characteristics of essential services or monopolies such as utilities, transportation infrastructure, communications or companies with a unique product or market position. Top holdings include International Container Terminal Services, Ocean Wilsons Holdings, Alupar Investimento, Transgaz and Yuexiu Transport Infrastructure.

At a share price of 218p, it currently trades at a prospective dividend yield of 3.2%.

Social housing

Another safe income-focused investment trust worth a closer look is Civitas Social Housing (LSE: CSH).

Its strategy is to invest in a broad mix of social housing, comprising traditional adapted homes, repurposed homes and purpose-built properties. This delivers more greater income predictability than most property portfolios, since it benefits from very long lease agreements signed only with housing associations and local authorities.

With a weighted average unexpired lease term of 24.3 years and the vast majority of rents benefitting from CPI-inflation indexation, investors can have a high degree of certainty that income earned by the investment company is set to grow steadily year-on-year.

Low correlation

Returns from such investments also have a low correlation against the general residential and commercial real estate sectors, or equity markets. This affords investors an opportunity to diversify more broadly across different markets to reduce their portfolio volatility at a time of heightened geopolitical tensions and global market uncertainty.

Still, the fund is not completely immune to broader economic patterns. Property valuations are ultimately determined by market forces, meaning they are dependent on macroeconomic conditions in the country. However, due to the long-dated nature of its lease agreements, investors should not have too much to worry about in the short- to medium term.

On the downside of the high predictability of its income, yields are fairly low — at its current price, shares in the social housing landlord yield just 3%.

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Jack Tang has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

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