4 Ex-Dividend Stocks With Buy Ratings

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The following stocks go ex-dividend Monday, meaning an investor must purchase the shares Friday to qualify for the next dividend payment: Activision Blizzard ( ATVI), Cincinnati Financial ( CINF), International Flavors & Fragrances ( IFF) and W.R. Berkley ( WRB).

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

Activision Blizzard

The interactive entertainment company named Dennis Durkin its chief financial officer earlier this month replacing interim finance chief and current Chief Operating Officer Thomas Tippl. Durkin previously worked at Microsoft as a corporate vice president as well as chief operating officer and chief financial officer of the company's interactive entertainment business.

"Management is focused on making Skylanders a franchise title with 2012's Giants, and we think the figurines and unique interactive experience is resonating with the right audience at the right time," Piper Jaffray analysts wrote in a March 9 report. "We believe this title has the potential to add a third leg to the stool of Activision-Blizzard's existing portfolio (the first two legs include Call of Duty and World of Warcraft)."

Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 1.5%

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

Activision Blizzard has strong liquidity. Its Quick Ratio is 1.63, which shows the company can meet its short-term cash needs.

In the fourth quarter, stockholders' net worth increased 2.83% from the prior year.

TheStreet Ratings' price target is $13.87. The stock closed Thursday at $12.46 and has risen 1.14% year to date.

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Cincinnati Financial

The property casualty insurance company reported last month fourth-quarter earnings of $134 million, or 83 cents a share, an increase from year-earlier earnings of $126 million, or 77 cents.

"Cincinnati closes out what was a very tough 2011 on a positive note," Keefe, Bruyette & Woods analysts wrote in a Feb. 8 report. "Should the company be able to avoid some of the weather related losses seen in recent quarters and build further momentum with regards to pricing, results could bounce back nicely in 2012. The stock has seen a nice run YTD in 2012, thus it trades at a premium to peers, which given the strong dividend yield is appropriate, but we need to see some sustained momentum on the bottom line to become more positive on the shares near-term."

Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 4.5%

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

In the fourth quarter, stockholders' net worth was also about the same as the prior year.

TheStreet Ratings' price target is $40.36. The stock closed Thursday at $35.98 and has risen 18.12% year to date.


International Flavors & Fragrances

The fragrance and flavor products company reported last month fourth-quarter earnings of $24.4 million, or 30 cents a share, down from year-earlier earnings of $55.6 million, or 69 cents.

"Following a solid 2011, we are reiterating our HOLD rating on shares of International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. (IFF-NYSE), as we expect slowing growth in 2012 driven by organic headwinds, unfavorable foreign currency and a slower global macro environment," KeyBanc Capital Markets analysts wrote in a Feb. 21 report. "That being said, IFF's focus on return on capital should provide the levers to drive some growth in 2012, when volume growth will be tepid. We see pricing initiatives, cost saving programs and steady demand in the Company's Flavor group as growth drivers. While IFF is trading toward the low end of its historical trading range, we do not see a good catalyst to drive further multiple expansion."

Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 2.2%

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

International Flavors & Fragrances has weak liquidity. Its Quick Ratio is 0.99, which demonstrates a lack of ability to meet its short-term cash needs.

In the fourth quarter, stockholders' net worth increased 10.50% from the prior year.

TheStreet Ratings' price target is $64.90. The stock closed Thursday at $57.22 and has risen 9.16% year to date.

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W.R. Berkley

The insurance holding company reported Jan. 31 fourth-quarter earnings of $118 million, or 82 cents a share, down from year-earlier earnings of $127 million, or 85 cents.

"In calendar year 2011, WRB's consolidated loss ratio developed adversely in accident years 2002 to 2004, while every accident year since 2003 has developed favorably since inception," Keefe, Bruyette & Woods analysts wrote in a March 11 report. "The initial loss ratio of 63.6% for accident year 2011 appears modestly aggressive, and we wouldn't be surprised if it developed higher over time."

Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 0.9%

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

TheStreet Ratings' price target is $45.83. The stock closed Thursday at $35.85 and has risen 4.25% year to date.

-- Written by Alexandra Zendrian

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