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4 Buy-Rated Dividend Stocks

Ecopetrol S.A

Dividend Yield: 5.70%

Ecopetrol S.A (NYSE: EC) shares currently have a dividend yield of 5.70%.

Ecopetrol S.A., an integrated oil company, engages in the exploration, development, and production of crude oil and natural gas. As of December 31, 2011, its proved reserves of crude oil and natural gas totaled 1,856.7 million barrels of oil equivalent. The company has a P/E ratio of 8.26.

The average volume for Ecopetrol S.A has been 530,100 shares per day over the past 30 days. Ecopetrol S.A has a market cap of $101.9 billion and is part of the energy industry. Shares are down 16.8% year to date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Ecopetrol S.A as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, good cash flow from operations, expanding profit margins, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and increase in net income. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself.

Highlights from the ratings report include:

  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 1.3%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 15.8%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 53.01% to $4,898.80 million when compared to the same quarter last year. The firm also exceeded the industry average cash flow growth rate of 20.25%.
  • 42.60% is the gross profit margin for ECOPETROL SA which we consider to be strong. Regardless of EC's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, EC's net profit margin of 20.48% significantly outperformed against the industry.
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has exceeded that of the S&P 500, but is less than that of the Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry average. The net income increased by 0.8% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $2,202.93 million to $2,220.02 million.
  • EC's debt-to-equity ratio is very low at 0.21 and is currently below that of the industry average, implying that there has been very successful management of debt levels. Despite the fact that EC's debt-to-equity ratio is low, the quick ratio, which is currently 0.63, displays a potential problem in covering short-term cash needs.

New From TheStreet: Jim Cramer's Protégé, Dave Peltier, only buys dividend stocks that have the potential for a 3% to 4% yield and 10% growth. Get his best picks for less than $50/year.

Other helpful dividend tools from TheStreet:

Editor's Note: TheStreet ratings do not represent the views of TheStreet's staff or its contributors. Ratings are established by computer based on metrics for performance (which includes growth, stock performance, efficiency and valuation) and risk (volatility and solvency). Companies with poor cash flow or high debt levels tend to earn lower ratings in our model.

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