5 Ex-Dividend Stocks With Buy Ratings

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The following stocks go ex-dividend Thursday, meaning an investor must purchase the shares Wednesday to qualify for the next dividend payment: General Electric ( GE), McGraw-Hill ( MHP), Assurant ( AIZ), Tractor Supply ( TSCO) and Atmos Energy ( ATO).

Each of the stocks was rated a buy at TheStreet Ratings.

General Electric

The industrial conglomerate had its price target raised by JPMorgan Chase analysts on Friday to $21 from $20 based on the strength of the company's financial arm, General Electric Capital Services.

"GECS has moved from a drag with capital adequacy concerns to a cash 'gusher,'which we believe is being underappreciated in the sum-of-the-parts discussion at GE," JPMorgan analysts wrote in the Feb. 17 report. "It's now time for a discussion around GECS as an upside lever for valuation. Unlike any time over the past decade when investors could buy a combination of pure-play financials and industrials, the best way to re-create GE now is to buy GE."

Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 3.5%

Rated "B (Buy)" at TheStreet Ratings: In the fourth quarter, stockholders' net worth decreased 2.13% from the prior year.

TheStreet Ratings' price target is $21.96. The stock closed Tuesday at $19.41 and has risen 8.38% year to date.

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McGraw-Hill

The information services company reported last month fourth-quarter earnings of $214 million, or 73 cents a share, up from year-ago earnings of $154 million, or 50 cents.

"We think valuation is attractive (13.0 times 2013E EPS), and the "growth/value" plan could provide support for the shares near term," JPMorgan analysts wrote in a Jan. 31 report. "We're still keeping a close eye on CRA regulatory rumblings in Europe as draft legislation was introduced in Q4,11."

Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 2.2%

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

McGraw-Hill has weak liquidity. Its Quick Ratio is 0.64, which demonstrates a lack of ability to meet its short-term cash needs.

In the fourth quarter, stockholders' net worth decreased 31.77% from the previous year.

TheStreet Ratings' price target is $56.37. The stock closed Tuesday at $45.68 and has increased 1.58% year to date.


Assurant

The insurance company reported earlier this month fourth-quarter earnings of $162.3 million, or $1.73 a share, a swing from a year-earlier loss of $184.4 million, or $1.74 a share.

Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 1.6%

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

In the fourth quarter, stockholders' net worth increased 5.15% from the prior year.

TheStreet Ratings' price target is $50.73. The stock closed Tuesday at $44.39 and has risen 8.11% year to date.

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Tractor Supply

"TSCO appears poised for another year of beat-and-raise earnings announcements and we believe shares remain reasonably valued for a high quality growth story," Piper Jaffray analysts wrote in a Feb. 2 report.

Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 0.6%

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

Tractor Supply has very weak liquidity. Its Quick Ratio is 0.43, which demonstrates a lack of ability to meet its short-term cash needs.

In the fourth quarter, stockholders' net worth increased 8.04% from the prior year.

TheStreet Ratings' price target is $109.45. The stock closed Tuesday at $83.37 and has risen 18.85% year to date.


Atmos Energy

The natural gas company reported earlier this month first-quarter earnings of $68.5 million, or 75 cents a share, down from year-ago earnings of $74 million, or 81 cents.

"ATO continues to trade at a discount to peers (albeit somewhat less so), which we see as justified by headwinds at ATO's Nonregulated segments and uncertainty around pending rate cases at some of ATO's jurisdictions," Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts wrote in a Feb. 9 report. "That said, ATO plans to increase growth capital spending, which may allow ATO to grow its rate base at a somewhat accelerated annual growth rate of 6-6.5% going forward (up from 4-4.5% historical growth)."

Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 4.3%

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

Atmos Energy has very weak liquidity. Its Quick Ratio is 0.49, which shows a lack of ability to meet its short-term cash needs.

In the first quarter, stockholders' net worth was basically the same as the prior year.

TheStreet Ratings' price target is $38.45. The stock closed Tuesday at $32.09 and has dropped 3.78% year to date.

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-- Written by Alexandra Zendrian

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