Nearly three years following the arrest – and subsequent flight from justice – of Nissan Motor Co. (OTCPK:NSANY) Chairman Carlos Ghosn for alleged financial misdeeds, the automaker is struggling to regain stability and momentum after the related falling out with its one-time alliance partner, French automaker Renault SA (OTCPK:RNLSY).

The worldwide collapse of automotive production in the second quarter, a consequence of the global pandemic, has further wounded an already-hobbled Nissan.

Key to Nissan’s recovery is a return to profitability, which likely hinges on success in its most important and profitable market, the U.S. Sales in the U.S. reached a peak of about 1.6 million in 2017, falling to 1.2 million for the fiscal year ended on March 31.

Steep Loss, Shrinking Capacity

In May, Nissan posted a $6.2 billion loss and announced a program to cut global vehicle-making capacity. The automaker has been operating manufacturing capacity to produce about seven million light vehicles, though it barely can sell five million.

CEO Makoto Uchida said he hoped Nissan would be generating positive cash flow by the end of 2021. Nissan also said it would be cooperating more closely with Renault, which owns 40% of its shares. The cooperation entrails Nissan’s focusing efforts on Japan, China and the U.S. – while letting Renault SA concentrate on Europe and Latin America. (A third alliance partner, Mitsubishi Motors (OTCPK:MMTOF), will put its efforts toward the southeast Asian market). Under the restructuring, Nissan is cutting global capacity to 5.4 million vehicles.

Among the Nissan plants to survive the cut is its massive complex in Smyrna, Tennessee, where the new third-generation Rogue is being built. To maximize capacity for Rogue, Nissan is moving production of the Altima sedan to its plant in Canton, Mississippi, which until now had been devoted mostly to trucks

The energy stocks in the

S&P 500

have lost about half their value this year. The sector is littered with dividend cuts and suspensions, as companies have moved to shore up cash positions amid the pandemic and weaker oil prices. This isn’t the ideal scenario for income investors.

And yet.

“There are selective opportunities across the energy sector to find sustainable and attractive income,” Devin McDermott, head of North American oil and gas research at Morgan Stanley, tells Barron’s.

Among the dividend-paying energy companies that McDermott favors are


(ticker: CVX) and an assortment of midstream operations, which typically focus on infrastructure, such as pipelines to transport oil and gas. Those include

Magellan Midstream Partners

(MMP) and

Enterprise Products Partners

(EPD), both of which are master-limited partnerships—popular income vehicles, at times. Those two MLPs were recently yielding 11.8% and 11%, respectively.

McDermott also likes the dividend outlook for

Williams Cos.

(WMB), whose assets include pipelines for transporting oil and gas. It recently yielded 7.9%.

“Those [stocks] all have fairly compelling dividend yields that are sustainable, even in this new normal, and they all have strong balance sheets to give then flexibility through this cycle,” McDermott says, referring in part to weak commodity prices and margins for potentially an extended period.

But investors should use caution. Among energy companies in the S&P 500 alone, exploration-and-production firms



Occidental Petroleum

(OXY), and

Noble Energy

(NBL) have slashed their payouts this year. Another E&P firm,

Marathon Oil

(MRO), suspended its dividend.

Global oil companies haven’t been immune to cuts, either.


(BP.London) said in August that it would halve its quarterly dividend to 5.25 cents a share from 10.5 cents. And

Royal Dutch Shell

(RDS.A) in April slashed its payout by about two-thirds, to 16 cents a share.

Prices as of the