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."

Darden Restaurants

Dividend Yield: 4.10%

Darden Restaurants (NYSE: DRI) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.10%.

Darden Restaurants, Inc. owns and operates full service restaurants in the United States and Canada. It operates restaurants under the Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, Eddie V's Prime Seafood, and Wildfish Seafood Grille brand names. The company has a P/E ratio of 14.97.

The average volume for Darden Restaurants has been 2,061,800 shares per day over the past 30 days. Darden Restaurants has a market cap of $6.4 billion and is part of the leisure industry. Shares are up 11.3% year to date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Darden Restaurants as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, attractive valuation levels and increase in stock price during the past year. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • DRI's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 2.7%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 4.5%. 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.
  • In its most recent trading session, DRI 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 our attention to the future direction of the stock, it goes without saying that even the best stocks can fall in an overall down market. However, in any other environment, this stock still has good upside potential despite the fact that it has already risen in the past year.
  • DARDEN RESTAURANTS INC's earnings per share declined by 18.4% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. We feel it is likely to report a decline in earnings in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, DARDEN RESTAURANTS INC increased its bottom line by earning $3.59 versus $3.42 in the prior year. For the next year, the market is expecting a contraction of 12.3% in earnings ($3.15 versus $3.59).
  • The company's current return on equity has slightly decreased from the same quarter one year prior. This implies a minor weakness in the organization. Compared to other companies in the Hotels, Restaurants & Leisure industry and the overall market on the basis of return on equity, DARDEN RESTAURANTS INC has underperformed in comparison with the industry average, but has exceeded that of the S&P 500.

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GlaxoSmithKline

Dividend Yield: 5.80%

GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) shares currently have a dividend yield of 5.80%.

GlaxoSmithKline plc, together with its subsidiaries, discovers, develops, manufactures, and markets pharmaceutical products, over-the-counter medicines, and health-related consumer products worldwide. The company has a P/E ratio of 14.25.

The average volume for GlaxoSmithKline has been 2,416,900 shares per day over the past 30 days. GlaxoSmithKline has a market cap of $127.7 billion and is part of the drugs industry. Shares are up 9.8% year to date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

TheStreet Ratings rates GlaxoSmithKline as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, notable return on equity, expanding profit margins and increase in stock price during the past year. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 6.0%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 2.8%. 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.
  • The company's current return on equity greatly increased when compared to its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a signal of significant strength within the corporation. Compared to other companies in the Pharmaceuticals industry and the overall market, GLAXOSMITHKLINE PLC's return on equity significantly exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • The gross profit margin for GLAXOSMITHKLINE PLC is currently very high, coming in at 71.00%. Regardless of GSK's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of 13.00% trails the industry average.
  • GLAXOSMITHKLINE PLC's earnings per share declined by 22.4% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has suffered a declining pattern of earnings per share over the past year. However, we anticipate this trend reversing over the coming year. During the past fiscal year, GLAXOSMITHKLINE PLC reported lower earnings of $2.97 versus $3.21 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($3.58 versus $2.97).
  • In its most recent trading session, GSK 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 our attention to the future direction of the stock, it goes without saying that even the best stocks can fall in an overall down market. However, in any other environment, this stock still has good upside potential despite the fact that it has already risen in the past year.

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.

Ameren

Dividend Yield: 4.60%

Ameren (NYSE: AEE) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.60%.

Ameren Corporation operates as a public utility holding company in the United States. It operates in three segments: Ameren Missouri, Ameren Illinois, and Merchant Generation.

The average volume for Ameren has been 1,798,900 shares per day over the past 30 days. Ameren has a market cap of $8.5 billion and is part of the utilities industry. Shares are up 14.4% year to date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Ameren as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its increase in stock price during the past year and good cash flow from operations. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Compared to where it was a year ago today, the stock is now trading at a higher level, regardless of the company's weak earnings results. 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.
  • Net operating cash flow has slightly increased to $329.00 million or 5.44% when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite an increase in cash flow, AMEREN CORP's average is still marginally south of the industry average growth rate of 12.31%.
  • AMEREN CORP 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, AMEREN CORP swung to a loss, reporting -$4.01 versus $2.14 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.10 versus -$4.01).
  • AEE, with its decline in revenue, slightly underperformed the industry average of 3.4%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 4.4%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • Even though the current debt-to-equity ratio is 1.03, it is still below the industry average, suggesting that this level of debt is acceptable within the Multi-Utilities industry. Even though the debt-to-equity ratio shows mixed results, the company's quick ratio of 0.42 is very low and demonstrates very weak liquidity.

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.

W. P. Carey

Dividend Yield: 4.90%

W. P. Carey (NYSE: WPC) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.90%.

W. P. Carey Inc. is an independent equity real estate investment trust. The firm also provides long-term sale-leaseback and build-to-suit financing for companies. It invests in the real estate markets across the globe. The company has a P/E ratio of 52.71.

The average volume for W. P. Carey has been 271,300 shares per day over the past 30 days. W. P. Carey has a market cap of $4.6 billion and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are up 30.2% year to date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

TheStreet Ratings rates W. P. Carey as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, solid stock price performance, increase in net income, good cash flow from operations and growth in earnings per share. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had somewhat disappointing return on equity.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • WPC's very impressive revenue growth greatly exceeded the industry average of 16.4%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues leaped by 181.7%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.
  • 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 45.70% 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, WPC should continue to move higher despite the fact that it has already enjoyed a very nice gain in the past year.
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry. The net income increased by 70.3% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $9.09 million to $15.48 million.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 180.02% to $48.90 million when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, W P CAREY INC has also vastly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of 38.81%.
  • The gross profit margin for W P CAREY INC is rather high; currently it is at 68.90%. Regardless of WPC's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, WPC's net profit margin of 9.32% is significantly lower than the industry average.

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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