Ex-Dividend Stocks: Exxon Mobil, Rockwell Automation

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: Exxon Mobil ( XOM), Wisconsin Energy ( WEC), Rockwell Automation ( ROK), W.W. Grainger ( GWW), Fair Isaac ( FICO), Diebold ( DBD) and CNA Financial ( CNA).

Exxon Mobil

The oil giant last month forecast first-quarter earnings of $9.45 billion, or $2 a share, down from year-earlier earnings of $10.65 billion, or $2.14.

"We think the upside potential in XOM shares is much greater than the downside risk from lower oil and gas prices and refining and marketing margins," Oppenheimer analysts wrote in a May 3 report. "As the largest publicly traded oil and gas company, XOM has long been a core holding for investors seeking a defensive investment with continued dividend growth. Low volatility, financial strength, capital discipline, operating efficiency, and strong management are its most attractive characteristics, in our view. The XTO acquisition made XOM the largest gas producer in the US, but low gas prices depressed the stock. However, the potential for recovering gas prices beginning in 2012 and the application of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing completion methods in XOM's unconventional international portfolio could make this acquisition much better than many have concluded."

Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 2.7%

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Wisconsin Energy

The steam and electric energy company reported on May 1 first-quarter net income from continuing operations of $172.1 million, or 74 cents a share, up from year-earlier earnings of $170.9 million, or 72 cents.

"We are raising our price objective to $36 from $35, which is a 10% premium to the regulated peer group," Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts wrote in a May 3 report. "In our view, this premium is warranted given WEC's solid earnings and dividend growth outlook, free cash flow generation, and strong track record. As the stock already trades at a 10% premium to the group, we are maintaining our Neutral rating."

Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 3.3%


Rockwell Automation

The industrial automation power company reported second-quarter earnings on April 25 of $167.8 million, or $1.16 a share, up from year-earlier earnings of $166.4 million, or $1.14.

"After YTD underperformance, shares now trade at parity to the group and are not expensive," JPMorgan analysts wrote in an April 26 report. "Stepping back, however, FY12 likely ends up with about 10% EPS growth on 7-8% organic growth, neither of which is likely to accelerate in FY13. In the meantime, macro risk is above average, and we struggle to identify the catalyst for multiple expansion."

Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 2.2%

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W.W. Grainger

The maintenance and repair supplies company reported on April 17 first-quarter earnings of $187.5 million, or $2.57 a share, up from year-earlier earnings of $157.9 million, or $2.18.

"It appears that South America (Brazil in particular) will be the next real longer term growth opportunity following the acquisition of AnFreixo S.A.," Credit Suisse analysts wrote in a May 8 report. "While the global MRO market presents a very large opportunity in the long term, we stress that it requires the structure of an economy to be accommodative to the industry. While developed economies in general present a realistic market opportunity, emerging markets represent a different dynamic and therefore different hurdles."

Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 1.6%


Fair Isaac

The data management products and services company reported second-quarter earnings on April 25 of $20 million, or 55 cents a share, up from year-earlier earnings of $7.7 million, or 19 cents.

"FICO announced head of sales Charles Ill is retiring after two years with the company, to be replaced by the GM of EMEA, Mike Gordon, who has been with the company since 2005," Deutsche Bank analysts wrote in an April 25 report. "Stuart Wells is the new CTO, replacing Deborah Kerr, who will remain a consultant through 2012. Jim Wehmann is the recently appointed head of Scores, FICO's most profitable business. We note the CEO change was only a quarter ago. While a transition of the management bench can pose challenges, we believe that with most of these executives already having worked at or with FICO earlier, execution risk should be low."

Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 0.2%

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Diebold

The security systems company reported on April 25 first-quarter net income from continuing operations of $45.2 million, or 71 cents a share, up from year-earlier results of $2.5 million, or 4 cents.

"We believe management's expectations for 2012 positive growth may prove ambitious given the continuing declines in physical security and early stages of managed services ramp," Wedbush analysts wrote in an April 25 report.

Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 3%


CNA Financial

The casualty and property insurance company reported on April 30 first-quarter earnings of $250 million, or 93 cents a share, up from year-earlier earnings of $220 million, or 82 cents.

"A relatively low expected ROE suggests the stock should be trading at a discount to book value, however, we believe the current discount is a bit too steep," Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts wrote in an April 30 report. "Part of the reason for the low ROE relates to excess capital as well as a drag from run-off businesses. We believe that management is taking steps to improve underwriting results and improving market conditions should allow progress."

Forward Annual Dividend Yield: 2%

-- Written by Alexandra Zendrian

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