4 Ex-Dividend Stocks With Buy Ratings

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The following stocks go ex-dividend Friday, meaning an investor must purchase the shares Thursday to qualify for the next dividend payment: Agilent Technologies ( A), Quest Diagnostics ( DGX), PNM Resources ( PNM) and Thor Industries ( THO).

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

Agilent Technologies

The electronic measurement solutions company reported last month first-quarter earnings of $230 million, or 65 cents a share, up from year-earlier earnings of $193 million, or 54 cents.

"Management presented a consistent financial model, offered details of its business drivers, and unveiled some new methods it will deploy to achieve its high incremental margin targets," Credit Suisse analysts wrote in a March 12 report. "Our Outperform rating is based on a view that management can drive higher margins by crosspollinating ideas from its electronics segment to its bio-analytics segment."

Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 0.9%

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

Agilent Technologies is extremely liquid. Its Quick Ratio is 2.63, which shows the company can meet its short-term cash needs.

In the first quarter, stockholders' net worth increased 34.93% from the prior year.

TheStreet Ratings' price target is $50.49.

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Quest Diagnostics

The diagnostic testing company is scheduled to report first-quarter earnings on April 18. Analysts, on average, anticipate earnings of $1.01 a share on revenue of $1.88 billion.

"All in, we view DGX as able to meet current growth expectations this year,although Medicare hits should be more daunting in 2013," Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts wrote in a March 12 report. "By then, we hope to see a rebound in utilization, as well as the impact of cost cutting."

Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 1.1%

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

Quest Diagnostics has weak liquidity. Its Quick Ratio is 0.69, which demonstrates a lack of ability to meet its short-term cash needs.

In the fourth quarter, stockholders' net worth decreased 8.44% from the prior year.

TheStreet Ratings' price target is $69.24.


PNM Resources

The energy company reported last month fourth-quarter earnings of $176.4 million, or $1.96 a share, a swing from a year-earlier loss of $45.2 million, or 49 cents a share.

"Q4 results beat our expectations and represent a strong ending to a very good 2011," Wells Fargo analysts wrote in a March 1 report. "In addition, a 16% dividend hike announcement is a nice start to 2012. PNM affirmed its 2012 EPS guidance and its long-term goal to provide total return in the top quartile of the industry. We are reiterating our 2012-14 estimates and our Market Perform rating. While we think PNM has a good chance to achieve its long-term top-quartile return target, numerous near-term regulatory uncertainties keep us from getting more aggressive with our rating."

Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 3.1%

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

PNM Resources has very weak liquidity. Its Quick Ratio is 0.47, which demonstrates a lack of ability to meet its short-term cash needs.

In the fourth quarter, stockholders' net worth decreased 3.80% from the prior year.

TheStreet Ratings' price target is $23.91.

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Thor Industries

The recreational vehicle company reported on March 8 second-quarter earnings of $13.7 million, or 25 cents a share, up from year-earlier earnings of $5.7 million, or 10 cents.

"Thor enjoys the market leading position in an RV industry which is now seeing an encouraging improvement in sales trends," Wedbush analysts wrote in a March 9 report. "However, the company has faced slight market share declines and heightened competitive promotional spending in recent months; thus, we believe shares of THO should trade at a 10% discount to the peer group average EV/2012E EBITDA ratio of 8.5x."

Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 1.9%

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

Thor Industries has average liquidity. Its Quick Ratio is 1.21, which shows the company can technically meet its short-term cash needs.

In the second quarter, stockholders' net worth increased 1.38% from the prior year.

TheStreet Ratings' price target is $35.19.

-- Written by Alexandra Zendrian

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