4 Ex-Dividend Stocks With Buy Ratings

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- These stocks go ex-dividend Thursday, meaning an investor must purchase the shares Wednesday to qualify for the next dividend payment: Southern ( SO), Noble Energy ( NBL), IdaCorp ( IDA) and Webster Financial ( WBS).

Each of these stocks received a buy rating from TheStreet Ratings.

See the complete Dividend Calendar.

Southern

The electric utility reported fourth-quarter earnings last week of $261 million, or 30 cents a share, an increase from year-earlier profit of $153 million, or 18 cents. year.

"Southern Company provided its 2012-2014 capital spending plan during itsfourth quarter conference call, and highlighted that it could be forced to spend an additional $4.4 billion from 2012-2014 to meet stricter emissions limits from the EPA," JPMorgan analysts wrote in a Jan. 27 report. "While 2012 would see limited impact from implementation, earnings could see a modest uplift in the out years of 2013 and 2014 as SO ramps up spending to meets the new emissions rules. (SO projects that it could spend $0.4 billion in 2012, $1.2 billion in 2013, and $2.8 billion in 2014). We estimate that SO could see a $0.03, $0.09, and $0.22 of incremental benefit to earnings in 2012, 2013, and 2014 respectively if it proceeds with environmental spending."

Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 4.2%

Rated "A+ (Buy)" by TheStreet Ratings: The company's fourth-quarter gross profit margin increased from the previous year.

TheStreet Ratings' price target is $53.87. The stock closed at $45.56 on Tuesday.

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Noble Energy

The energy company is scheduled to report fourth-quarter earnings on Feb. 9. Analysts, on average, anticipate earnings of $1.15 a share on revenue of $945.9 million.

"In a recent filing with Israel's Securities Authority, Noble Energy (NBL, Outperform/$95.91) and its Israeli partners revised upward the Leviathan gross resource estimate to 20 Tcf from 16 Tcf and revised downward the estimated oil in place (NBL holds a ~40% working interest)," Wells Fargo analysts wrote in a Jan. 17 report. "We view the former as meaningful as it adds $1.33 to our modeled NAV. The latter has no impact on our model as we have assumed nearly 100% of the Leviathan offtake will be gas."

Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 0.9%

Rated "B (Buy)" by TheStreet Ratings: The company's third-quarter gross profit margin increased from the prior year.

Noble Energy has weak liquidity. Its Quick Ratio is 0.92, which demonstrates a lack of ability to meet its short-term cash needs.

In the third quarter, stockholders' net worth increased 12.54% from the previous year.

TheStreet Ratings' price target is $121.33. The stock closed Tuesday at $100.67.


Webster Financial

The bank reported fourth-quarter net income last month of $39.6 million, or 43 cents a share, an increase from prior-year earnings of $24.3 million, or 29 cents.

"Investments in the fee-based platform are expected to yield greater returns in FY12, which could represent upside potential to our model," Deutsche Bank analysts wrote in a report on Jan. 19.

Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 0.9%

Rated "B- (Buy)" by TheStreet Ratings: The company's fourth-quarter gross profit margin increased from the prior year.

TheStreet Ratings' price target is $25.48. The stock closed at $21.20 on Tuesday.

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IdaCorp

The electricity company is scheduled to report fourth-quarter earnings on Feb. 22. Analysts, on average, expect earnings of 21 cents a share on $222 million in revenue.

"The IDA Board recently endorsed a long-term target dividend payout ratio of 50-60%," Ladenburg Thalman analysts wrote in a Jan. 13 report. "Based on our 2012 estimated EPS, achieving the low-end of the target would represent a +25% increase in the dividend to $1.50 p/s from $1.20. In our opinion, it is likely that IDA will reach the 50% payout target in at least two steps. We expect a double digit increase (+12.5%) this month to an annualized dividend of $1.35 p/s implying a 3.2% yield."

Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 3.1%

Rated "A+ (Buy)" by TheStreet Ratings: The company's third-quarter gross profit margin decreased from the previous year.

IdaCorp has very weak liquidity. Its Quick Ratio is 0.46, which demonstrates a lack of ability to meet its short-term cash needs.

In the third quarter, stockholders' net worth increased 9.2% from the prior year.

TheStreet Ratings' price target is $49.26. The stock closed Tuesday at $42.15.

-- Written by Alexandra Zendrian

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