4 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 4 stocks with substantial yields, that ultimately, we have rated "Buy."

Legacy Reserves

Dividend Yield: 8.10%

Legacy Reserves (NASDAQ: LGCY) shares currently have a dividend yield of 8.10%.

Legacy Reserves LP, an independent oil and natural gas limited partnership, engages in the acquisition and development of oil and natural gas properties primarily located in the Permian Basin, Mid-Continent, and Rocky Mountain regions of the United States. The company has a P/E ratio of 20.03.

The average volume for Legacy Reserves has been 306,200 shares per day over the past 30 days. Legacy Reserves has a market cap of $1.6 billion and is part of the energy industry. Shares are up 17.4% year to date as of the close of trading on Tuesday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Legacy Reserves as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, increase in net income, expanding profit margins and growth in earnings per share. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally high debt management risk by most measures that we evaluated.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • LGCY's very impressive revenue growth greatly exceeded the industry average of 1.3%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues leaped by 264.6%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry. The net income increased by 103.2% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from -$58.52 million to $1.87 million.
  • 46.10% is the gross profit margin for LEGACY RESERVES LP which we consider to be strong. It has increased significantly from the same period last year. Regardless of the strong results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of 1.97% trails the industry average.
  • LEGACY RESERVES LP reported significant earnings per share improvement in the most recent quarter compared to 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, LEGACY RESERVES LP reported lower earnings of $1.43 versus $1.71 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.46 versus $1.43).
  • In its most recent trading session, LGCY has closed at a price level that was not very different from its closing price of one year earlier. This is probably due to its weak earnings growth as well as other mixed factors. Turning toward the future, the fact that the stock has come down in price over the past year should not necessarily be interpreted as a negative; it is one of the factors that makes this stock an attractive investment.

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.

Great Northern Iron Ore

Dividend Yield: 13.70%

Great Northern Iron Ore (NYSE: GNI) shares currently have a dividend yield of 13.70%.

Great Northern Iron Ore Properties, a conventional nonvoting trust, owns and leases mineral and non-mineral properties on the Mesabi Iron Range in northeastern Minnesota. The company has a P/E ratio of 4.92.

The average volume for Great Northern Iron Ore has been 22,900 shares per day over the past 30 days. Great Northern Iron Ore has a market cap of $98.7 million and is part of the metals & mining industry. Shares are down 0.1% year to date as of the close of trading on Tuesday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Great Northern Iron Ore as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, expanding profit margins and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had somewhat weak growth in earnings per share.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • GNI has no debt to speak of therefore resulting in a debt-to-equity ratio of zero, which we consider to be a relatively favorable sign. To add to this, GNI has a quick ratio of 1.65, which demonstrates the ability of the company to cover short-term liquidity needs.
  • The gross profit margin for GREAT NORTHERN IRON ORE PPTY is currently very high, coming in at 77.70%. Despite the high profit margin, it has decreased significantly from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, GNI's net profit margin of 77.69% significantly outperformed against the industry.
  • The revenue fell significantly faster than the industry average of 4.6%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues fell by 44.4%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • The change in net income from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the Metals & Mining industry average, but is less than that of the S&P 500. The net income has significantly decreased by 51.0% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $7.24 million to $3.55 million.
  • 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 Metals & Mining industry and the overall market, GREAT NORTHERN IRON ORE PPTY's return on equity significantly exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.

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.

Crestwood Midstream Partners

Dividend Yield: 8.40%

Crestwood Midstream Partners (NYSE: CMLP) shares currently have a dividend yield of 8.40%.

Crestwood Midstream Partners LP primarily engages in the gathering, processing, treating, compressing, transporting, and selling natural gas in the United States. The company operates in four segments: Barnett, Fayetteville, Granite Wash, and Marcellus. The company has a P/E ratio of 65.70.

The average volume for Crestwood Midstream Partners has been 230,800 shares per day over the past 30 days. Crestwood Midstream Partners has a market cap of $1.0 billion and is part of the energy industry. Shares are up 14.5% year to date as of the close of trading on Tuesday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Crestwood Midstream Partners as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its good cash flow from operations, expanding profit margins and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Net operating cash flow has slightly increased to $19.13 million or 7.06% when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite an increase in cash flow, CRESTWOOD MIDSTREAM PTNRS LP's cash flow growth rate is still lower than the industry average growth rate of 20.25%.
  • 48.30% is the gross profit margin for CRESTWOOD MIDSTREAM PTNRS LP which we consider to be strong. Regardless of CMLP's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, CMLP's net profit margin of 8.52% compares favorably to the industry average.
  • CRESTWOOD MIDSTREAM PTNRS 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. The company has suffered a declining pattern of earnings per share over the past two years. However, we anticipate this trend to reverse over the coming year. During the past fiscal year, CRESTWOOD MIDSTREAM PTNRS LP reported lower earnings of $0.37 versus $1.00 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($0.48 versus $0.37).
  • CMLP, with its decline in revenue, slightly underperformed the industry average of 1.3%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 3.9%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • CMLP's debt-to-equity ratio of 0.91 is somewhat low overall, but it is high when compared to the industry average, implying that the management of the debt levels should be evaluated further. Regardless of the somewhat mixed results with the debt-to-equity ratio, the company's quick ratio of 1.10 is sturdy.

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.

AmeriGas Partners

Dividend Yield: 7.20%

AmeriGas Partners (NYSE: APU) shares currently have a dividend yield of 7.20%.

AmeriGas Partners, L.P. operates as a retail and wholesale distributor of propane gas, and related equipment and supplies in the United States. The company has a P/E ratio of 165.11.

The average volume for AmeriGas Partners has been 124,300 shares per day over the past 30 days. AmeriGas Partners has a market cap of $4.1 billion and is part of the utilities industry. Shares are up 17% year to date as of the close of trading on Tuesday.

TheStreet Ratings rates AmeriGas Partners as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, expanding profit margins, good cash flow from operations, increase in net income and increase in stock price during the past year. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally high debt management risk by most measures that we evaluated.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 3.4%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 28.2%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • 48.30% is the gross profit margin for AMERIGAS PARTNERS -LP which we consider to be strong. It has increased significantly from the same period last year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 11.02% is above that of the industry average.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 441.71% to $40.49 million when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, AMERIGAS PARTNERS -LP has also vastly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of 35.70%.
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Gas Utilities industry. The net income increased by 127.3% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $42.53 million to $96.67 million.
  • Compared to where it was a year ago today, the stock is now trading at a higher level, reflecting both the market's overall trend during that period and the fact that the company's earnings growth has been robust. Looking ahead, the stock's rise over the last year has already helped drive it to a level which is relatively expensive compared to the rest of its industry. We feel, however, that the other strengths this company displays justify these higher price levels.

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.

Other helpful dividend tools from TheStreet:

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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