7 Ex-Dividend Stocks With Buy Ratings

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The following stocks go ex-dividend Tuesday, meaning an investor must purchase the shares Monday to qualify for the next dividend payment: Microsoft ( MSFT), Wynn Resorts ( WYNN), Marathon Oil ( MRO), Centerpoint Energy ( CNP), Archer-Daniels-Midland ( ADM), Black Hills ( BKH) and MarketAxess ( MKTX).

Each of the stocks gets a buy rating from TheStreet Ratings.

See the complete Dividend Calendar.

Microsoft

The software company last month posted better-than-expected second-quarter earnings, but missed on Windows 7 sales.

Microsoft posted an adjusted profit of 77 cents a share on sales of $19.95 billion, up from profit of 74 cents a share on sales of $19 billion in the year-ago quarter. Analysts were expecting EPS of 68 cents and revenue of $19.14 billion.

Microsoft's entertainment division saw 55% growth in the quarter thanks to holiday sales of the Kinect for Xbox 360, Xbox Live subscriptions and Xbox games.

Shares of Microsoft reached a 52-week high Thursday of $30.80.

"MSFT stock is more about upcoming Win 8 release and how the perception of the defensibility of the Win/Office franchise could change," Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts wrote in a report Friday. "At ~8x PE ex-cash and ~3% div yield, MSFT screens as top 3 defensive in uncertain macro. We reiterate Buy and $33 PO."

Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 2.6%

Rated "A- (Buy)" by TheStreet Ratings: The company's second-quarter gross profit margin was basically the same as the prior year.

Microsoft is extremely liquid. Its Quick Ratio is 2.58, which demonstrates that it can meet its short-term cash needs.

In the second quarter, stockholders' net worth increased 32.26% from the previous year.

TheStreet Ratings' price target is $34.59. The stock closed Friday at $30.50 and has risen 17.49% year to date.

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Wynn Resorts

The casino resorts company reported earlier this month fourth-quarter earnings of $190.4 million, or $1.52 a share, down from year-earlier earnings of $114.2 million, or 91 cents.

"In our opinion, WYNN's shares trade at a valuation that does not fully incorporate the strong fundamentals and balance sheet, as well as the Company's premier position in Macau and Las Vegas," KeyBanc Capital Markets analysts wrote in a Feb. 3 report. "Macau remains on a tear and Las Vegas seems to be on the path to further recovery, albeit of undefined length and strength."

Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 1.7%

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

TheStreet Ratings' price target is $157.15. The stock closed Friday at $113.20 and has increased 2.45% year to date.


Marathon Oil

The energy company reported earlier this month fourth-quarter earnings of $549 million, or 78 cents a share, down from year-earlier earnings of $706 million, or 99 cents.

"We are reaffirming our Outperform rating on MRO and are raising our price target to $40/share, from $35/share, to reflect its upside growth potential, driven by onshore US liquids-rich plays, mainly the Eagle Ford, Bakken, Woodford and Niobrara," Oppenheimer analysts wrote in a Feb. 8 report. "These plays will account for the bulk of future growth and will be the key to MRO valuation and stock performance."

Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 2.1%

Rated "B- (Buy)" by TheStreet Ratings: The company's fourth-quarter gross profit margin was about the same as a year ago.

TheStreet Ratings' price target is $36.30. The stock closed Friday at $33.15 and has risen 13.26% year to date.

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Centerpoint Energy

The utility is scheduled to report fourth-quarter earnings on Feb. 29. Analysts, on average, expect earnings of 19 cents a share on revenue of $2.51 billion.

"We are attracted to CNP's above-average EPS growth potential, no external financing needs, and 4.3% dividend yield," Wells Fargo analysts wrote in a Feb. 2 report. "Further, given recent share price underperformance, we believe the risk/reward is beginning to tilt in investors' favor. Our neutral stance reflects weak gas prices/fundamentals, which affect CNP's midstream business, and uncertainties around the use of cash. We initiated coverage of CNP with a Market Perform rating."

Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 4.3%

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

Centerpoint Energy has weak liquidity. Its Quick Ratio is 0.50, which demonstrates a lack of ability to meet its short-term cash needs.

In the third quarter, stockholders' net worth increased 34.45% from the previous year.

TheStreet Ratings' price target is $24.39 The stock closed Friday at $18.91 and has declined 5.87% year to date.


Archer Daniels Midland

The agricultural products company reported on Jan. 31 second-quarter earnings of $80 million, or 12 cents a share, a fall from year-earlier earnings of $732 million, or $1.14.

"We are maintaining our Underperform as we believe a challenging environment will continue to weigh on earnings near term," Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts wrote in a Jan. 31 report. "We could become more positive if the drought in South America results in a significant decline in grain production, shifting export demand to the US which would be beneficial for ADM's asset base."

Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 2.3%

Rated "B (Buy>" by TheStreet Ratings: The company's second-quarter gross profit margin decreased from the prior year.

In the second quarter, stockholders' net worth increased 14.34% from the previous year.

TheStreet Ratings' price target is $33.69. The stock closed Friday at $30.57 and has risen 6.89% year to date.

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Black Hills

The diversified energy company reported earlier this month fourth-quarter earnings of $26.5 million, or 62 cents a share, an increase from year-earlier earnings of $16.3 million, or 41 cents.

"We are hoisting our 12-18 month price target from $34 to $35, in order to recognize the earnings growth potential of a number of capital projects that the company is planning, which could push the five-year EPS growth prospect well above the 6% rate that we have been carrying," D.A. Davidson analysts wrote in a Feb. 7 report. "Our new target equates to ~16x (previously 15.5x) the average of our 2012 and 2013 EPS estimates. At the current share price we are maintaining a NEUTRAL rating."

Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 4.2%

Rated "B (Buy)" by TheStreet Ratings: The company's third-quarter gross profit margins were basically the same as a year ago.

Black Hills has very weak liquidity. Its Quick Ratio is 0.36, which demonstrates a lack of ability to meet its short-term cash needs.

In the third quarter, stockholders' net worth remained about the same as it did the prior year.

TheStreet Ratings' price target is $39.20. The stock closed Friday at $34.99 and has increased 4.2% year to date.


MarketAxess

The electronic trading platform reported earlier this month fourth-quarter earnings of $11.5 million, or 29 cents a share, an increase from year-earlier earnings of $8.9 million, or 23 cents.

"The structural trend of more small-sized trades over block trades being executed across the industry favors the MKTX model," Keefe, Bruyette & Woods analysts wrote in a Feb. 1 report. "However, dealer inventory and willingness to take risk still give us pause as 75-80% of dollar volume executed on MKTX's platform is still with the large dealers."

Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 1.4%

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

In the fourth quarter, stockholders' net worth increased 17.99% from the previous year.

TheStreet Ratings' price target is $44.60. The stock closed Friday at $32.23 and has risen 7.04% year to date.

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-- Written by Alexandra Zendrian

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