10 Buy-Rated Dividend Stocks to Buy Today

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- In today's low interest rate environment, long-term investors may wish to consider dividend stocks as an alternative to fixed income investments.

At 2.13%, the dividend yield of the S&P 500 index generates more income than a 10-year Treasury note, but is still scant by absolute standards.

Income investors might find better opportunity in a diverse basket of carefully chosen stocks.
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Each of these 10 stocks has a higher dividend yield than a S&P 500 index fund, has a buy rating from TheStreet Ratings and will trade ex-dividend tomorrow (this means that you must purchase the stock today to qualify for the next dividend payment).

TheStreet Ratings stock-rating model favors defensive investments with a bias towards conservatively financed companies that have demonstrated a history of favorable shareholder returns.

As always, stock ratings should not be treated as gospel -- rather, use them as a starting point for your own research.

The stocks on the following pages are ranked by their dividend yield, in ascending order.

10. El Paso Electric

El Paso Electric ( EE) is a public utility company, engaged in the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity in west Texas and southern New Mexico.

Dividend Yield: 2.61%

Rated "A (Buy)" by TheStreet Ratings: El Paso Electric's gross profit margin for the second quarter of its fiscal year 2011 has increased when compared to the same period a year ago. The company managed to grow both sales and net income at a faster pace than the average competitor in its industry this quarter as compared to the same quarter a year ago.

The company has weak liquidity. Currently, the Quick Ratio is 0.54 which shows a lack of ability to cover short-term cash needs. The company's liquidity has increased from the same period last year.

During the same period, stockholders' equity ("net worth") has increased by 9.96% from the same quarter last year. Overall, the key liquidity measurements indicate that the company is in a position in which financial difficulties could develop in the future.

9. Extra Space Storage

Extra Space Storage ( EXR) is a real estate investment trust formed to own, operate, manage, acquire, develop and redevelop professionally managed self-storage facilities.

Dividend Yield: 2.70%

Rated "B (Buy)" by TheStreet Ratings: Extra Space Storage's gross profit margin for the second quarter of its fiscal year 2011 is essentially unchanged when compared to the same period a year ago.

The company has grown sales and net income during the past quarter when compared with the same quarter a year ago, however, it was unable to keep up with the growth of the average competitor within its industry.

During the same period, stockholders' equity ("net worth") has increased by 14.24% from the same quarter last year.

8. Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola ( KO) is a manufacturer, distributor and marketer of non-alcoholic beverage concentrates and syrups.

Dividend Yield: 2.71%

Rated "A+ (Buy)" by TheStreet Ratings: Coca-Cola's gross profit margin for the second quarter of its fiscal year 2011 has decreased when compared to the same period a year ago. Sales and net income have grown, and although the growth in revenues has outpaced the average competitor within the industry, the net income growth has not.

Coca-Cola has weak liquidity. Currently, the Quick Ratio is 0.81 which shows a lack of ability to cover short-term cash needs. The company's liquidity has decreased from the same period last year.

At the same time, stockholders' equity ("net worth") has greatly increased by 37.71% from the same quarter last year. Overall, the key liquidity measurements indicate that the company is in a position in which financial difficulties could develop in the future.

7. Eastman Chemical

Eastman Chemical ( EMN) is a global chemical company which manufactures and sells a portfolio of chemicals, plastics and fibers.

Dividend Yield: 2.87%

Rated "B (Buy)" by TheStreet Ratings: Eastman Chemical's gross profit margin for the second quarter of its fiscal year 2011 has decreased when compared to the same period a year ago. The company has grown sales and net income significantly, outpacing the average growth rates of competitors within its industry.

Eastman Chemical has average liquidity. Currently, the Quick Ratio is 1.44 which shows that technically this company has the ability to cover short-term cash needs. The company's liquidity has increased from the same period last year, indicating improving cash flow.

During the same period, stockholders' equity ("net worth") has increased by 13.71% from the same quarter last year. Together, the key liquidity measurements indicate that it is relatively unlikely that the company will face financial difficulties in the near future

6. Huntsman

Huntsman ( HUN) is a manufacturer of differentiated organic chemical products and of inorganic chemical products.

Dividend Yield: 3.36%

Rated "B- (Buy)" by TheStreet Ratings: Huntsman's gross profit margin for the second quarter of its fiscal year 2011 is essentially unchanged when compared to the same period a year ago. While sales increased, net income has remained unchanged.

Huntsman has average liquidity. Currently, the Quick Ratio is 1.15 which shows that technically this company has the ability to cover short-term cash needs. The company's liquidity has decreased from the same period last year.

At the same time, stockholders' equity ("net worth") has greatly increased by 27.44% from the same quarter last year. Together, the key liquidity measurements indicate that it is relatively unlikely that the company will face financial difficulties in the near future.

5. Chesapeake Utilities

Chesapeake Utilities ( CPK) is a utility company engaged in natural gas distribution, transmission and marketing, propane distribution and wholesale marketing, advanced information services and other related businesses.

Dividend Yield: 3.55%

Rated "A (Buy)" by TheStreet Ratings: Chesapeake Utlities' gross profit margin for the second quarter of its fiscal year 2011 is essentially unchanged when compared to the same period a year ago. The company has grown its sales and net income during the past quarter when compared with the same quarter a year ago, and although its growth in net income has outpaced the industry average, its revenue growth has not.

Chesapeake Utilities has weak liquidity. Currently, the Quick Ratio is 0.60 which shows a lack of ability to cover short-term cash needs. The company's liquidity has increased from the same period last year, indicating improving cash flow.

During the same period, stockholders' equity ("net worth") has increased by 6.87% from the same quarter last year. Overall, the key liquidity measurements indicate that the company is in a position in which financial difficulties could develop in the future.

4. Merck

Merck ( MRK) is a global research-driven pharmaceutical company that discovers, develops, manufactures and markets a range of innovative products to improve human and animal health.

Dividend Yield: 4.77%

Rated "B (Buy)" by TheStreet Ratings: Merck's gross profit margin for the second quarter of its fiscal year 2011 is essentially unchanged when compared to the same period a year ago. The company has grown its sales and net income during the past quarter when compared with the same quarter a year ago, and although its growth in net income has outpaced the industry average, its revenue growth has not.

Merck has average liquidity. Currently, the Quick Ratio is 1.42 which shows that technically this company has the ability to cover short-term cash needs. The company's liquidity has increased from the same period last year.

During the same period, stockholders' equity ("net worth") has remained unchanged from the same quarter last year. Together, the key liquidity measurements indicate that it is relatively unlikely that the company will face financial difficulties in the near future.

3. Garmin

Garmin ( GRMN) and its subsidiaries manufacture, market, and distribute GPS-enabled products and other related products.

Dividend Yield: 4.88%

Rated "B (Buy)" by TheStreet Ratings: Garmin's gross profit margin for the second quarter of its fiscal year 2011 has decreased when compared to the same period a year ago. Sales and net income have dropped, however the growth has outpaced the average competitor within the industry.

Garmin is extremely liquid. Currently, the Quick Ratio is 2.16 which clearly shows the ability to cover any short-term cash needs. The company's liquidity has decreased from the same period last year.

During the same period, stockholders' equity ("net worth") has increased by 11.73% from the same quarter last year. Overall, the key liquidity measurements indicate that the company is very unlikely to face financial difficulties in the near future.

2. Leggett & Platt

Leggett & Platt ( LEG) is a manufacturer that conceives, designs and produces a range of engineered components and products.

Dividend Yield: 5.37%

Rated "B (Buy)" by TheStreet Ratings: Leggett & Platt's gross profit margin for the second quarter of its fiscal year 2011 has decreased when compared to the same period a year ago. The company managed to grow both sales and net income at a faster pace than the average competitor in its industry this quarter as compared to the same quarter a year ago.

Leggett & Platt has average liquidity. Currently, the Quick Ratio is 1.33 which shows that technically this company has the ability to cover short-term cash needs. The company's liquidity has decreased from the same period last year, indicating deteriorating cash flow.

During the same period, stockholders' equity ("net worth") has remained virtually unchanged only decreasing by 2.05% from the same quarter last year. Together, the key liquidity measurements indicate that it is relatively unlikely that the company will face financial difficulties in the near future.

1. Altria

Altria ( MO), through its subsidiaries, manufactures and sells cigarettes, other tobacco products, machine-made large cigars and pipe tobacco.

Dividend Yield: 6.22%

Rated "B (Buy)" by TheStreet Ratings: Altria's gross profit margin for the second quarter of its fiscal year 2011 is essentially unchanged when compared to the same period a year ago. Even though sales increased, the net income has decreased.

Altria has very weak liquidity. Currently, the Quick Ratio is 0.41 which clearly shows a lack of ability to cover short-term cash needs. The company's liquidity has increased from the same period last year, indicating improving cash flow.

At the same time, stockholders' equity ("net worth") has remained virtually unchanged only increasing by 2.47% from the same quarter last year. The key liquidity measurements indicate that the company is in a position in which financial difficulties could develop in the near future.

>>To see these stocks in action, visit the 10 Buy-Rated Dividend Stocks to Buy Today portfolio on Stockpickr.

-- Written by a member of TheStreet Ratings staff.

This article was written by a staff member of TheStreet Ratings.

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