The energy industry had some of the hottest stocks on the market over the past two years, but with fears of a potentially recessionary dampening demand for oil and gas, the S&P 500 Energy index is down 25% since its peak last month.
The cost of a barrel of oil is down to around $100 per barrel, and gasoline at the pumps has broken from its record high last month of $5 a gallon. But upstream, midstream, and downstream energy stocks are still taking a beating.
That makes it a critical time to consider where you’ve been putting your money to work and whether you should be investing in shares stocks to protect your downside. History shows income-generating stocks outperform non-dividend stocks even in the worst of times, so if we’re heading into a new period of market turbulence, it may be the right time to find companies that pay a safe dividend and can pad your pockets during this uncertainty.
Chevron (CVX -0.83%) and Enterprise Products Partners (EPD -0.55%) Offer two of the most dependable dividends in the energy sector right now.
As one of the biggest integrated energy companies, Chevron stands to benefit from the global need for fossil fuels that will last for years, decades even. Despite alternative fuel sources filling an increasing percentage of our energy needs, there isn’t the capacity available for wind, solar, or biofuels to displace oil and gas as our primary providers.
Even though oil’s price has dropped from its highs, it remains elevated and will likely stay elevated for some time to come. Chevron has told investors that even if oil drops to $50 a barrel — what it deems its break-even price — it would be able to maintain its record-setting stock buyback rate of $10 billion annually plus finance its dividend without worry, while a price of $75 a barrel would allow for further increases in both.
It also noted that during the depths of the pandemic lockdown with oil averaging $30 a barrel (there was a point where the price even went negative), Chevron maintained its payout while still investing in its business even as many of its rivals suspended their dividends.
The oil giant has a record of increasing its dividend for 35 consecutive years, most recently in January when it hiked the quarterly payout 6% to $1.42 per share, or $5.68 annually. With a healthy yield of 4.1% annually, Chevron is a Dividend Aristocrat, and its payout remains one of the industry’s safest.
Enterprise Products Partners
Unlike Chevron having its hand in all aspects of the oil and gas supply chain, Enterprise Products Partners specializes in the midstream channel, owning one of the largest pipeline networks in the US with over 50,000 miles of pipeline, 14 billion cubic feet of natural gas storage , and 260 million barrels of storage capacity for natural gas liquids (NGLs), crude oil, refined products, and petrochemicals. It also has 21 NGL processing plants.
Enterprise Products Partners is also one of the largest publicly traded partnerships in the country. As the middleman in the process, it thrives because it has a stable stream of revenue and predictable cash flows. Much of its revenue is derived from long-term, fixed-fee, or take-or-pay contracts that mean it gets paid whether its customers accept delivery of the product or not.
Although the midstream player doesn’t yet have the same longevity as Chevron in raising its dividend, at 23 consecutive years and counting, it is fast closing in on the 25-year threshold needed to become a Dividend Aristocrat.
It’s also a very safe dividend as its distribution-coverage ratio, or the amount of cash flow available for distribution compared to what the company disburses to its shareholders, of 1.8. The ratio should not fall below 1 as that implies the payout is unsustainable. But even during the pandemic, Enterprise’s distribution-coverage ratio never got close to 1 and ended the year at 1.6.