3 Buy-Rated Dividend Stocks

Editor's Note: TheStreet ratings do not represent the views of TheStreet's staff or its contributors. Ratings are established by computer based on metrics for performance (which includes growth, stock performance, efficiency and valuation) and risk (volatility and solvency). Companies with poor cash flow or high debt levels tend to earn lower ratings in our model.

TheStreet Ratings' stock model projects a stock's total return potential over a 12-month period including both price appreciation and dividends. Our Buy, Hold or Sell ratings designate how we expect these stocks to perform against a general benchmark of the equities market and interest rates.

While plenty of high-yield opportunities exist, investors must always consider the safety of their dividend and the total return potential of their investment. It is not uncommon for a struggling company to suspend high-yielding dividends and subsequently result in precipitous share price declines.

TheStreet Ratings' stock rating model views dividends favorably, but not so much that other factors are disregarded. Our model gauges the relationship between risk and reward in several ways, including: the pricing drawdown as compared to potential profit volatility, i.e. how much one is willing to risk in order to earn profits?; the level of acceptable volatility for highly performing stocks; the current valuation as compared to projected earnings growth; and the financial strength of the underlying company as compared to its stock's valuation as compared to its stock's performance.

These and many more derived observations are then combined, ranked, weighted, and scenario-tested to create a more complete analysis. The result is a systematic and disciplined method of selecting stocks. As always, stock ratings should not be treated as gospel — rather, use them as a starting point for your own research.

The following pages contain our analysis of 3 stocks with substantial yields, that ultimately, we have rated "Buy."

Energy Transfer Equity

Dividend Yield: 4.40%

Energy Transfer Equity (NYSE: ETE) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.40%.

Energy Transfer Equity, L.P., through its subsidiaries, provides diversified energy-related services in the United States. The company sells natural gas to electric utilities, independent power plants, local distribution companies, industrial end-users, and other marketing companies. The company has a P/E ratio of 48.81. Currently there are 7 analysts that rate Energy Transfer Equity a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 1 rates it a hold.

The average volume for Energy Transfer Equity has been 629,000 shares per day over the past 30 days. Energy Transfer Equity has a market cap of $16.0 billion and is part of the energy industry. Shares are up 27.2% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Energy Transfer Equity as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth and solid stock price performance. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • ETE's very impressive revenue growth greatly exceeded the industry average of 2.9%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues leaped by 422.5%. This growth in revenue does not appear to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, displayed by a decline in earnings per share.
  • Compared to its closing price of one year ago, ETE's share price has jumped by 33.83%, exceeding the performance of the broader market during that same time frame. We feel that the stock's sharp appreciation over the last year has driven it to a price level which is now somewhat expensive compared to the rest of its industry. The other strengths this company shows, however, justify the higher price levels.
  • ENERGY TRANSFER EQUITY LP has exprienced a steep decline in earnings per share in the most recent quarter in comparison to its performance from the same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. But, we feel it is poised for EPS growth in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, ENERGY TRANSFER EQUITY LP increased its bottom line by earning $1.61 versus $1.40 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.34 versus $1.61).
  • Return on equity has greatly decreased when compared to its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a signal of major weakness within the corporation. Compared to other companies in the Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry and the overall market on the basis of return on equity, ENERGY TRANSFER EQUITY LP has underperformed in comparison with the industry average, but has exceeded that of the S&P 500.
  • The gross profit margin for ENERGY TRANSFER EQUITY LP is currently extremely low, coming in at 8.70%. It has decreased significantly from the same period last year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 0.43% trails that of the industry average.

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Corrections Corporation of America

Dividend Yield: 5.50%

Corrections Corporation of America (NYSE: CXW) shares currently have a dividend yield of 5.50%.

Corrections Corporation of America, together with its subsidiaries, owns and operates privatized correctional and detention facilities in the United States. The company has a P/E ratio of 24.79. Currently there are 4 analysts that rate Corrections Corporation of America a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 1 rates it a hold.

The average volume for Corrections Corporation of America has been 1,654,900 shares per day over the past 30 days. Corrections Corporation of America has a market cap of $3.9 billion and is part of the diversified services industry. Shares are up 8% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Corrections Corporation of America as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its solid stock price performance, growth in earnings per share, increase in net income and reasonable valuation levels. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows low profit margins.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Investors have apparently begun to recognize positive factors similar to those we have mentioned in this report, including earnings growth. This has helped drive up the company's shares by a sharp 47.93% over the past year, a rise that has exceeded that of the S&P 500 Index. Regarding the stock's future course, although almost any stock can fall in a broad market decline, CXW should continue to move higher despite the fact that it has already enjoyed a very nice gain in the past year.
  • CORRECTIONS CORP AMER has improved earnings per share by 7.1% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. Stable earnings per share over the past year indicate the company has sound management over its earnings and share float. We anticipate these figures will begin to experience more growth in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, CORRECTIONS CORP AMER increased its bottom line by earning $1.56 versus $1.55 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.10 versus $1.56).
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry average. The net income increased by 12.1% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $40.52 million to $45.41 million.
  • CXW, with its decline in revenue, underperformed when compared the industry average of 16.4%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 0.1%. The declining revenue has not hurt the company's bottom line, with increasing earnings per share.

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Highwoods Properties

Dividend Yield: 4.40%

Highwoods Properties (NYSE: HIW) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.40%.

Highwoods Properties, Inc. is a real estate investment trust. The trust engages in leasing, management, development, construction, and other customer-related services for its properties and for third parties. It invests in the real estate markets of United States. The company has a P/E ratio of 64.43. Currently there are 3 analysts that rate Highwoods Properties a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 7 rate it a hold.

The average volume for Highwoods Properties has been 835,300 shares per day over the past 30 days. Highwoods Properties has a market cap of $3.1 billion and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are up 15.4% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Highwoods Properties as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its solid stock price performance, impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income, revenue growth and reasonable valuation levels. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Looking at where the stock is today compared to one year ago, we find that it is not only higher, but it has also clearly outperformed the rise in the S&P 500 over the same period. Although other factors naturally played a role, the company's strong earnings growth was key. Looking ahead, unless broad bear market conditions prevail, we still see more upside potential for this stock, despite the fact that it has already risen over the past year.
  • HIGHWOODS PROPERTIES INC has improved earnings per share by 28.6% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past year. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, HIGHWOODS PROPERTIES INC increased its bottom line by earning $0.60 versus $0.41 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($0.69 versus $0.60).
  • The company, on the basis of net income growth from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly outperformed against the S&P 500 and exceeded that of the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry average. The net income increased by 21.9% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $12.05 million to $14.70 million.
  • Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 16.4%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 8.5%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.

New From TheStreet: Jim Cramer's Protégé, Dave Peltier, only buys dividend stocks that have the potential for a 3% to 4% yield and 10% growth. Get his best picks for less than $50/year.

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Editor's Note: TheStreet ratings do not represent the views of TheStreet's staff or its contributors. Ratings are established by computer based on metrics for performance (which includes growth, stock performance, efficiency and valuation) and risk (volatility and solvency). Companies with poor cash flow or high debt levels tend to earn lower ratings in our model.

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