4 Buy-Rated Dividend Stocks: CPNO, POM, GEO, EC

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."

Copano Energy

Dividend Yield: 5.60%

Copano Energy (NASDAQ: CPNO) shares currently have a dividend yield of 5.60%.

Copano Energy, L.L.C. provides midstream services to natural gas producers in the United States. It operates in three segments: Texas, Oklahoma, and Rocky Mountains.

The average volume for Copano Energy has been 921,600 shares per day over the past 30 days. Copano Energy has a market cap of $3.2 billion and is part of the energy industry. Shares are up 29.3% year to date as of the close of trading on Monday.

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

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 0.7%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 11.6%. 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 where it was a year ago today, the stock is now trading at a higher level, regardless of the company's weak earnings results. 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.
  • COPANO ENERGY LLC 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, COPANO ENERGY LLC continued to lose money by earning -$2.49 versus -$2.86 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.10 versus -$2.49).
  • The return on equity has improved slightly when compared to the same quarter one year prior. This can be construed as a modest strength in the organization. Compared to other companies in the Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry and the overall market, COPANO ENERGY LLC's return on equity significantly trails that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • The gross profit margin for COPANO ENERGY LLC is currently extremely low, coming in at 9.80%. Regardless of CPNO's low profit margin, it has managed to increase from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, CPNO's net profit margin of -10.41% significantly underperformed when compared to the industry average.

STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12-months. Learn more.

Pepco Holdings

Dividend Yield: 5.10%

Pepco Holdings (NYSE: POM) shares currently have a dividend yield of 5.10%.

Pepco Holdings, Inc., through its subsidiaries, engages in the transmission, distribution, and supply of electricity. The company also distributes and supplies natural gas.

The average volume for Pepco Holdings has been 2,071,100 shares per day over the past 30 days. Pepco Holdings has a market cap of $5.3 billion and is part of the utilities industry. Shares are up 8.5% year to date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Pepco Holdings as a buy. Among the primary strengths of the company is its solid stock performance, considering both the consistency and magnitude of the price movement over time. 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 12 months ago, the stock is up, but it has so far lagged the appreciation in the S&P 500. 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.
  • POM, with its decline in revenue, underperformed when compared the industry average of 12.6%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 1.4%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • PEPCO HOLDINGS INC 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. We feel it is likely to report a decline in earnings in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, PEPCO HOLDINGS INC increased its bottom line by earning $1.22 versus $1.14 in the prior year. For the next year, the market is expecting a contraction of 7.4% in earnings ($1.13 versus $1.22).
  • The gross profit margin for PEPCO HOLDINGS INC is rather low; currently it is at 20.30%. Regardless of POM's low profit margin, it has managed to increase from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, POM's net profit margin of -35.10% significantly underperformed when compared to the industry average.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly decreased to -$146.00 million or 734.78% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, when comparing to the industry average, the firm's growth rate is much lower.

STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12-months. Learn more.

Geo Group

Dividend Yield: 5.50%

Geo Group (NYSE: GEO) shares currently have a dividend yield of 5.50%.

The GEO Group, Inc. provides government-outsourced services specializing in the management of correctional, detention, and re-entry facilities, and the provision of community based services and youth services in the United States, Australia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and Canada. The company has a P/E ratio of 14.79.

The average volume for Geo Group has been 662,600 shares per day over the past 30 days. Geo Group has a market cap of $2.6 billion and is part of the diversified services industry. Shares are up 29.5% year to date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Geo Group as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its compelling growth in net income, revenue growth, notable return on equity, reasonable valuation levels and solid stock price performance. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • 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 55.9% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $15.03 million to $23.42 million.
  • Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 12.1%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 4.7%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.
  • Current return on equity exceeded its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a clear sign of strength within the company. Compared to other companies in the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry and the overall market, GEO GROUP INC's return on equity exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • Powered by its strong earnings growth of 43.47% and other important driving factors, this stock has surged by 63.65% over the past year, outperforming the rise in the S&P 500 Index during the same period. Regarding the stock's future course, although almost any stock can fall in a broad market decline, GEO should continue to move higher despite the fact that it has already enjoyed a very nice gain in the past year.

STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12-months. Learn more.

Ecopetrol S.A

Dividend Yield: 6.40%

Ecopetrol S.A (NYSE: EC) shares currently have a dividend yield of 6.40%.

Ecopetrol S.A., an integrated oil company, engages in the exploration, development, and production of crude oil and natural gas Colombia. The company operates in four segments: Exploration and Production, Refining and Petrochemicals, Transportation, and Market and Supply. The company has a P/E ratio of 6.90.

The average volume for Ecopetrol S.A has been 632,700 shares per day over the past 30 days. Ecopetrol S.A has a market cap of $90.7 billion and is part of the energy industry. Shares are down 26% year to date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Ecopetrol S.A as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its 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 sub par growth in net income.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • 49.50% is the gross profit margin for ECOPETROL SA which we consider to be strong. Regardless of EC's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, EC's net profit margin of 20.37% significantly outperformed against the industry.
  • EC's debt-to-equity ratio is very low at 0.25 and is currently below that of the industry average, implying that there has been very successful management of debt levels. Even though the company has a strong debt-to-equity ratio, the quick ratio of 0.46 is very weak and demonstrates a lack of ability to pay short-term obligations.
  • Regardless of the drop in revenue, the company managed to outperform against the industry average of 9.7%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 9.3%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • ECOPETROL SA's earnings per share declined by 22.9% 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, ECOPETROL SA increased its bottom line by earning $4.10 versus $3.94 in the prior year. For the next year, the market is expecting a contraction of 8.8% in earnings ($3.74 versus $4.10).
  • Reflecting the weaknesses we have cited, including the decline in the company's earnings per share, EC has underperformed the S&P 500 Index, declining 24.84% from its price level of one year ago. Looking ahead, although the push and pull of the overall market trend could certainly make a critical difference, we do not see any strong reason stemming from the company's fundamentals that would cause a continuation of last year's decline. In fact, the stock is now selling for less than others in its industry in relation to its current earnings.

STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12-months. Learn more.

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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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