Schering Gets Plowed

Schering-Plough is getting socked this afternoon, after the company released disappointing data on cholesterol drug Vytorin. The drug, co-developed with Merck ( MRK - Get Report), apparently doesn't lower the risk of major heart valve problems and the need for related surgical procedures.

The company reported two more problems with the drug as well. Studies showed a failure in reducing atherosclerotic disease, in which plaque builds up and blocks an artery. Also, cancer patients taking Vytorin were more likely to have "serious" heart events. However, the study did involve a small number of people, and such results could have been more coincidental.

For investors in Merck, we are not changing our recommendation off our "Recommended" list, based on this information. As for Schering-Plough, we have not been a fan of the stock and do not currently recommend the shares. Schering-Plough pays a dividend yield of 1.21%, based on Friday's close of $21.44. The company seems to be constantly stuck in "turnaround mode," and there are other names in the pharmaceutical sector we like much better. Albemarle - No Earnings Spark to Put Out

Albemarle's ( ALB - Get Report) revenue rise of 10% in its latest quarterly results was slightly below what analysts had expected. Sales of polymer additives and fine chemicals businesses made up a good portion of earnings.

Management believes demand for its refinery catalysts should continue to increase as regulations mandate cleaner fuels. The increasing percentage of sour crudes being processed by refiners should also fuel demand.

Albemarle cites margin compression due to the rampant input-cost inflation as the main issue going forward. This issue is a recurring theme with many industrial companies these days. For investors, despite a "steady as it goes" result, we are currently not excited with this stock, and is not a recommended "buy" at this time.

Albemarle currently pays a dividend yield of 1.24%, based on Friday's closing price of $38.80.

Badger Meter: Earnings 'Measure' of Success

Badger Meter ( BMI - Get Report) has just come through with a 20% revenue increase in the last quarter. Sales jumped to $74.7 million from $62.2 million.

Management is crediting strong demand for the company's utility products, especially its automatic meter reading systems. Badger Meter is a leading manufacturer and marketer of products incorporating liquid flow measurement and control technologies.

BMI stock is up over 15% so far this year heading into today's report. We do like the stock and think it is fairly valued here at 30 times 2009 estimates. We would prefer to buy this stock under $50, as its dividend yield of 0.70% leaves little room for support if the company stumbles at some point. For now, investors should look at Badger Meter as an interesting small-cap stock that is executing its game plan.

Be sure to visit our complete recommended list of the Best Dividend Stocks as well as a detailed explanation of our ratings system.

At the time of publication, the author had no positions in stocks mentioned, although positions may change at any time.

Tom Reese and Paul Rubillo are senior editors of Visit for more dividend stock ratings, picks, news, and analysis for long-term and income-seeking investors.