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: Verizon ( VZ), General Mills ( GIS), Darden ( DRI), Intuit ( INTU) and OGE Energy ( OGE).

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

Verizon

The telecommunications company is scheduled to report first-quarter earnings on April 18. Analysts, on average, anticipate earnings of 58 cents a share on revenue of $28.21 billion.

"While VZ trades at 15.5x 2012 CS EPS, a premium to T at 13x, the premium may be warranted given VZ's better growth prospects," Credit Suisse analysts wrote in a report Monday.

Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 5.2%

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

Verizon has weak liquidity. Its Quick Ratio is 0.84, which demonstrates a lack of ability to meet its short-term cash needs.

In the fourth quarter, stockholders' net worth decreased 6.73% from the prior year.

TheStreet Ratings' price target is $44.62.

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General Mills

The food products company reported on March 21 third-quarter earnings of $391.5 million, or 61 cents a share, compared with year-earlier earnings of $392.1 million, or 61 cents.

"The U.S. consumer continues to be weak, but GIS expects a stabilization as the company laps price increases," Jefferies analysts wrote in a March 22 report. "Volume in the U.S. retail business declined 5%, more than offset by 9% of price increases, mostly in line with our assumptions prior to the pre-announcement. Organic revenue growth of 4% was actually the best quarterly result of FY12 so far for GIS. However, the EBIT margin declined 160bps, comparable to the decline in 1H12. Apparently pricing has still not caught up with commodity costs, which is likely to result in further gross margin decline in 4Q12. In addition, the volume losses impacted the fixed cost absorption."

Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 3.1%

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

General Mills has very 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 17.99% from the prior year.

TheStreet Ratings' price target is $46.67.


Darden

The restaurant company reported on March 23 third-quarter earnings of $164.1 million, or $1.28 a share, up from year-earlier earnings of $151.2 million, or $1.11.

"Despite heavy advertising and the price point, 2-year comps trends only improved 110bps from Jan to Feb (promotion launched in the last week of Jan) and two-year traffic trends actually slowed by 100bps," Credit Suisse analysts wrote in a March 23 report. "The improvement came from an additional 80bps of price and a much less negative mix shift, with a mix-shift from lunch to dinner likely driving much of the mix benefit."

Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 3.4%

Rated "A+ (Buy)" by TheStreet Ratings: The company's third-quarter gross profit margin was basically the same as it was a year ago.

Darden Restaurants has very weak liquidity. Its Quick Ratio is 0.08, which demonstrates a lack of ability to meet its short-term cash needs.

In the third quarter, stockholders' net worth decreased 7.65% from the prior year.

TheStreet Ratings' price target is $58.56.

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Intuit

The financial management solutions company reported on Feb. 21 second-quarter earnings of $118 million, or 40 cents a share, up from year-earlier earnings of $73 million, or 24 cents.

"With ~40% of 2012 tax season returns still outstanding per IRS data, plenty of opportunity remains for TurboTax to improve upon its 8% y/y unit growth YTD through 3/17/12," Oppenheimer analysts wrote in a March 30 report. "Additionally: 1) TurboTax service offering mix; 2) ~week earlier y/y annual late season price increase; and 3) increased fee services y/y should augment FY12 volume growth with revenue/return growth. Additionally, Intuit's Small Business offerings (QuickBooks/Payroll/Payments) are also well positioned for FY12 double-digit revenue growth, driven largely by the company's focus on mobility services. Maintaining our estimates, we reiterate our Outperform rating."

Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 1%

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

Intuit has weak liquidity. Its Quick Ratio is 0.79, which demonstrates a lack of ability to meet its short-term cash needs.

In the second quarter, stockholders' net worth decreased 2.15% from the prior year.

TheStreet Ratings' price target is $69.10.


OGE Energy

The energy company reported on Feb. 16 fourth-quarter earnings of $36.4 million, or 37 cents a share, up from year-earlier earnings of $30.7 million, or 32 cents.

"OGE reported 2011 EPS of $3.45 versus $3.10 a year ago," Wunderlich Securities analysts wrote in a Feb. 17 report. "The 2011 results included $0.30 from hot weather (versus normal), while 2010 had a $0.15 benefit. Assuming normal weather in 2012, lower weather-related sales will be a headwind. However, higher utility revenues from the rate case along with higher transmission earnings should offset this. With gathering volume growth in 2012, Enogex results should increase with a full year of operation at the Cox City and South Canadian plants."

Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 2.9%

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

OGE Energy has very weak liquidity. Its Quick Ratio is 0.33, which demonstrates a lack of ability to meet its short-term cash needs.

In the fourth quarter, stockholders' net worth increased 11.95% from the prior year.

TheStreet Ratings' price target is $68.87.

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-- Written by Alexandra Zendrian

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