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

At 2.01%, the dividend yield of the S&P 500 index generates approximately the same amount of income as the 10-year Treasury note. This yield is paltry by absolute and historical standards, but for investors with a longer-time horizon, a diverse basket of fairly priced stocks offers a reasonable likelihood of capital appreciation.

Each of these seven 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).
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TheStreet Ratings stock-rating model favors defensive investments with a bias toward 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.

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Collector's Universe

Collector's Universe ( CLCT) is engaged in the business of providing third-party authentication, grading and related services for collectibles consisting of: coins, vintage U.S. paper currency, sports cards, stamps, sports memorabilia and autographs.

Dividend Yield: 8.23%

Rated "B (Buy)" by TheStreet Ratings: Collectors Universe gross profit margin for the fourth 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.

The company is extremely liquid. Currently, the Quick Ratio is 2.78 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 decreased by 9.20% 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.

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American Electric Power

American Electric Power ( AEP) is a public utility holding company, through its subsidiaries, provides electric service, consisting of generation, transmission and distribution, on an integrated basis to its retail customers.

Dividend Yield: 4.74%

Rated "A (Buy)" by TheStreet Ratings: This stock's P/E ratio indicates a discount compared to an average of 14.58 for the Electric Utilities industry and a discount compared to the S&P 500 average of 15.32. The current price-to-sales ratio is similar to the S&P 500 average, but it is below the industry average, indicating a discount.

After reviewing these and other key valuation criteria, American Electric Power proves to trade at a discount to investment alternatives within the industry.

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Spectra Energy

Spectra Energy ( SE) through its subsidiaries and equity affiliates, owns and operates a portfolio of complementary natural gas-related energy assets.

Dividend Yield: 3.82%

Rated "B+ (Buy)" by TheStreet Ratings: Spectra Energy'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.

The company has weak liquidity. Currently, the Quick Ratio is 0.66 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 16.56% 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.

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American States Water

American States Water ( AWR) is a public utility company engaged in the purchase, production, distribution and sale of water in California and also distributes electricity in several areas.

Dividend Yield: 3.18%

Rated "A- (Buy)" by TheStreet Ratings: American States Water 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 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.

The company has weak liquidity. Currently, the Quick Ratio is 0.73 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 6.29% 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.

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PPG Industries

PPG Industries ( PPG) manufactures coatings, glass and chemical products.

Dividend Yield: 2.58%

Rated "B (Buy)" by TheStreet Ratings: PPG Industries gross profit margin for the third 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.

The company has average liquidity. Currently, the Quick Ratio is 1.17 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. Together, the key liquidity measurements indicate that it is relatively unlikely that the company will face financial difficulties in the near future.

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J.M. Smucker

J.M. Smucker ( SJM) is engaged in the manufacturing and marketing of branded food products on a worldwide basis.

Dividend Yield: 2.44%

Rated "B+ (Buy)" by TheStreet Ratings: Smucker's gross profit margin for the first 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 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.

The company has weak liquidity. Currently, the Quick Ratio is 0.52 which shows a lack of 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 unchanged 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.

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Exxon Mobil

Exxon Mobil ( XOM) is engaged in the exploration, production, transportation and sale of crude oil and natural gas and the manufacture, transportation and sale of petroleum products.

Dividend Yield: 2.39%

Rated "B (Buy)" by TheStreet Ratings: This stock's P/E ratio indicates a discount compared to an average of 15.58 for the Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry and a discount compared to the S&P 500 average of 15.32. The price-to-sales ratio is below the S&P 500 average and is well below the industry average, indicating a discount. After reviewing these and other key valuation criteria, Exxon Mobil proves to trade at a discount to investment alternatives within the industry.

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>>To see these stocks in action, visit the 7 Buy-Rated Dividend Stocks to Buy portfolio on Stockpickr.


-- Written by a member of TheStreet Ratings staff. To get more stories like this one, you can sign-up for our free Dividend & Income newsletter.

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