2 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: American Eagle Outfitters ( AEO) and Sempra Energy ( SRE).

Each stock is rated buy at TheStreet Ratings.

American Eagle Outfitters

The retailer reported earlier this month fourth-quarter earnings of $51.3 million, or 26 cents a share, down from year-earlier earnings of $87 million, or 45 cents a share.

"More specifics on a strategic plan will be laid out later this year, but CEO Hanson's focus to enhance profitability will be to concentrate on inventory productivity (about $100 million last year was seen as unproductive), as well as high-margin businesses including e-commerce and outlets," Sterne Agee analysts wrote in a March 14 report. "In outlets, AEO sees potential to double the store base from 62 currently, as well as building the component of 'made for' product. Ecommerce currently is 12% of total sales and will build to a higher number. While AEO is currently shipping to 77 countries, we believe there is potential to raise revenues overseas as well as domestically in this channel."

Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 2.7%

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

American Eagle Outfitters has strong liquidity. Its Quick Ratio is 1.94, which shows the company can meet its short-term cash needs.

In the fourth quarter, stockholders' net worth increased 4.86% from the prior year.

TheStreet Ratings' price target is $19.28. The stock closed Tuesday at $16.79 and has risen 9.81% year to date.

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Sempra Energy

The energy services company reported last month fourth-quarter earnings of $292 million, or $1.22 a share, up from year-earlier earnings of $280 million, or $1.17 a share.

"SRE lowered its 2012 guidance to $4-$4.30/sh from $4.30-$4.60/sh on its accounting change," Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts wrote in a March 2 report. "SRE's old accounting methodology had created an earnings quality issue and we view the change positively. SRE's 2011 earnings of $4.47/sh were well above guidance of $4-$4.30/sh, with almost every operating segment coming in above the guidance range. SRE's regulated businesses are driving the majority of the beat, including both US utilities and South American utilities."

Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 4.1%

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

Sempra Energy has very weak liquidity. Its Quick Ratio is 0.39, which demonstrates a lack of ability to meet its short-term cash needs.

In the fourth quarter, stockholders' net worth increased 7.94% from the prior year.

TheStreet Ratings' price target is $68.33. The stock closed Tuesday at $58.70 and has risen 6.73% year to date.

-- Written by Alexandra Zendrian

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