Oil and natural gas prices are high today thanks to a supply/demand imbalance and geopolitical concerns. That’s led to a rally in energy stocks. Only the energy sector has a long history of swinging between euphoria and pessimism, so today’s upturn will likely turn into a downturn before too long. If you are looking to add some energy exposure, these two energy names are among the safest options. Here’s why.
1. Sidestepping the swings
Midstream master limited partnership (MLP) Enterprise Products Partners (NYSE: EPD) owns one of the largest portfolios of energy pipeline, storage, processing, and transportation assets in North America. With a roughly $50 billion market cap, it easily competes with the midstream industry’s largest players and has the scale and heft to both grow from the ground up and act as an industry consolidator. And it has one of the strongest balance sheets in the industry, so it is conservatively managed, as well. That’s highlighted by the fact that its cash flows covered its distribution by a massive 1.8 times in the first quarter.
The midstream sector, notably, is driven by fees. So not only is Enterprise large and financially strong, but its cash flows don’t tend to rise and fall along with the price of the commodities it helps to transport around the world. Demand, which is still quite strong, is the more important factor. Simply put, if you are looking for a safe energy investment, you’ll want to take a close look at Enterprise and its well-covered distribution.
The proof of that, however, is in the distribution itself. Enterprise has hiked its payout annually for 23 consecutive years. That’s a pretty impressive streak, noting that the partnership’s initial public offering was in 1998, just about 23 years ago. If you are looking for a safe energy stock, Enterprise should be on your shortlist. And the best part? It offers a very generous 7.9% distribution yield.
2. Built to survive
Next up is integrated energy giant Chevron (NYSE: CVX), which is one of the world’s biggest players in the oil and natural gas space. That means that Chevron’s top and bottom lines will fluctuate along with commodity prices. To put some numbers on that, Chevron lost $5.5 billion in 2020 when the pandemic led to a deep oil price decline. In 2021, after oil prices rebounded, the company posted a profit of $15.6 billion. That’s a big swing, but the kind you need to be prepared for if you invest in the energy space.
Luckily, Chevron is ready for the industry’s ups and downs. One of the key ways it handles the industry’s inherent volatility is by maintaining a rock-solid balance sheet. The company’s debt-to-equity ratio is 0.20 times. That’s low for any company but also happens to be the lowest among Chevron’s integrated major peer group. During difficult markets, Chevron can add debt to support its business and dividend. And that dividend is what really stands out here. Despite the industry’s frequent ups and downs, Chevron has increased its dividend annually for 35 consecutive years, making it a Dividend Aristocrat.
While you can’t possibly predict what’s going to happen to energy prices, Chevron has clearly proven it is ready to handle whatever comes its way. Meanwhile, you can sit back and collect a very safe 3.8% dividend yield. If you want direct oil exposure, Chevron is probably one of the safest options you’ll find today.
The energy sector will always be a volatile one, thanks to the commodity nature of what the companies produce. You can’t completely sidestep that, even with a midstream name like Enterprise Products Partners. However, you can make sure you own companies that are better positioned to deal with headwinds than others. This is why, on a relative basis, financially strong Enterprise and Chevron are some of the safest energy stocks you can find. That’s doubly true if you are a dividend investor since the steady income from this pair both highlights their consistency and rewards investors at the same time.