Macerich Facing Tough Mall Environment

Macerich ( MAC - Get Report), a mall operator, reported late Monday that its FFO (funds from operations) for the third quarter rose to $102.1 million, or $1.16 per share, from $111 million, or $1.15 per share, a year earlier.

The company said it did see occupancy during the quarter fall to 92.8%, down from 93.5% a year earlier. The average sales per square foot at its malls also rose to $463 from $460.

The company took a hit from retailer Mervyn's LLC, Macerich's largest tenant, which recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

We had removed shares of MAC from our "Recommended" list back on Sept. 29, when shares traded at $65.10. We are very concerned that REIT investors need to carefully look at the specific sector of REIT investing if there is a desire to get REIT income. We would focus on better areas of the REIT business such as apartments and residential-focused companies as we move forward. The biggest may be the best positioned and have better access to credit lines in this environment.

Macerich is not recommended at this time, holding a Dividend.com Rating of 3.2 out of 5 stars.

Church & Dwight Uses Price Increases to Protect Profits Church & Dwight ( CHD - Get Report) just reported third-quarter net income of $49.0 million, compared with $51.7 million a year earlier.

The maker of Trojan condoms and Arm & Hammer baking soda beat market expectations for the third consecutive quarter this year as price increases and new products bolstered margins.

Management still sees 2008 EPS coming in a range of $2.83-$2.85. The consensus is for EPS of $2.83 for the year.

We had removed shares of CHD from our "Recommended" list back on Oct. 7, when the stock was trading at $62.83. The company has a dividend yield of 0.61%, based on last night's closing stock price of $59.43. We believe the stock has maintained some solid strength and is not far off its 52-week high. Seeing the stock trade at 20 times next year's EPS estimates with a low dividend yield does give us some pause at these levels. We are watching the shares closely and will keep investors posted of any potential ratings changes.

Church & Dwight is not recommended at this time, holding a Dividend.com Rating of 3.4 out of 5 stars.

EOG Resources Popping on Third Quarter Results

EOG Resources ( EOG - Get Report) just reported that its net profit jumped nearly eight-fold in the third quarter to $1.56 billion or $6.20 cents per share, compared with $202 million, or 82 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier.

The independent U.S. oil and gas company said it remains on track to reach its goal of growing oil and gas output 15% in 2008. The company said it is targeting growth of 10% to 14% in 2009, depending on natural gas price fluctuations.

We had removed shares of EOG from our "Recommended" list back on July 23, when shares traded at $106.43. The company has a dividend yield of 0.71%, based on last night's closing stock price of $75.78. The stock is enjoying a nice bounce so far, but it has a lot of work for the shares to do, as it is way down from its 52-week high of nearly $145. The stock is trading at 16 times the low end of 2009 EPS estimates, so there is downside risk here if energy prices fail to resume any sort of upturn.

EOG Resources is not recommended at this time, holding a Dividend.com Rating of 3.0 out of 5 stars.

Principal Financial Group Has a Tough Quarter

Principal Financial Group ( PFG - Get Report) just reported that its third-quarter net income plummeted 61% to $90.1 million, or 35 cents a share, from $232.3 million, or 87 cents a share, a year ago.

The company reported realized and unrealized losses that included $41 million related to Lehman Brothers Holdings, which filed for bankruptcy protection in September and $41.2 million related to Washington Mutual, which was acquired by JPMorgan Chase.

The company did have some positives with its life and health insurance division growing operating earnings by 23% while its international asset management business saw a 26% increase.

We have avoided shares of PFG since our early June coverage began and the shares were trading at $49.19. The company has a dividend yield of 2.01%, based on last night's closing stock price of $22.39. The stock trades at 8 times the low end of 2009 estimates, which makes the shares fairly valued. The shares have retrenched all the way back to its IPO levels in 2001. The company had recently cut its dividend in half to 45 cents and frozen its $500 million repurchase share program. We would most certainly like to see the shares consolidate a bit before digging in for a long-term commitment.

Principal Financial Group is not recommended at this time, holding a Dividend.com Rating of 2.6 out of 5 stars.

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 Dividend.com. Visit Dividend.com for more dividend stock ratings, picks, news, and analysis for long-term and income-seeking investors.