5 Buy-Rated Dividend Stocks: GAS, WPC, EPR, LO, BCE

Editor's Note: Any reference to TheStreet Ratings and its underlying recommendation does not reflect the opinion of TheStreet, Inc. or any of its contributors including Jim Cramer or Stephanie Link.

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

AGL Resources

Dividend Yield: 4.10%

AGL Resources (NYSE: GAS) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.10%.

AGL Resources Inc., an energy services holding company, distributes natural gas to residential, commercial, industrial, and governmental customers in Illinois, Georgia, Virginia, New Jersey, Florida, Tennessee, and Maryland. The company has a P/E ratio of 18.23.

The average volume for AGL Resources has been 478,800 shares per day over the past 30 days. AGL Resources has a market cap of $5.4 billion and is part of the utilities industry. Shares are up 14.2% year to date as of the close of trading on Monday.

TheStreet Ratings rates AGL Resources as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, impressive record of earnings per share growth, attractive valuation levels, good cash flow from operations and increase in stock price during the past year. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows low profit margins.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 9.9%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 21.7%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • AGL RESOURCES INC has improved earnings per share by 18.0% 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, AGL RESOURCES INC increased its bottom line by earning $2.31 versus $2.15 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.64 versus $2.31).
  • The stock price has risen over the past year, but, despite its earnings growth and some other positive factors, it has underperformed the S&P 500 so far. 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.
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has exceeded that of the S&P 500, but is less than that of the Gas Utilities industry average. The net income increased by 18.5% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $130.00 million to $154.00 million.

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

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 65.87.

The average volume for W. P. Carey has been 352,400 shares per day over the past 30 days. W. P. Carey has a market cap of $4.7 billion and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are up 33.8% year to date as of the close of trading on Monday.

TheStreet Ratings rates W. P. Carey as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, solid stock price performance, increase in net income, good cash flow from operations and expanding profit margins. 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 12.3%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues leaped by 66.0%. 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, WPC's share price has jumped by 50.00%, exceeding the performance of the broader market during that same time frame. 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 exceeded that of the S&P 500 and greatly outperformed compared to the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry average. The net income increased by 15.4% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $12.29 million to $14.18 million.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 530.41% to $17.48 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 -13.85%.
  • The gross profit margin for W P CAREY INC is currently very high, coming in at 79.60%. It has increased significantly from the same period last year. Despite the strong results of the gross profit margin, WPC's net profit margin of 12.50% significantly trails 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.

EPR Properties

Dividend Yield: 6.10%

EPR Properties (NYSE: EPR) shares currently have a dividend yield of 6.10%.

EPR Properties, a real estate investment trust (REIT), develops, owns, leases, and finances entertainment and related properties in the United States and Canada. Its properties include megaplex theatres, entertainment retail centers, and destination recreational and specialty properties. The company has a P/E ratio of 20.87.

The average volume for EPR Properties has been 353,000 shares per day over the past 30 days. EPR Properties has a market cap of $2.4 billion and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are up 12.7% year to date as of the close of trading on Monday.

TheStreet Ratings rates EPR Properties as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its increase in stock price during the past year, 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:
  • 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. 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.
  • EPR PROPERTIES has improved earnings per share by 48.0% 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 two years. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, EPR PROPERTIES increased its bottom line by earning $2.31 versus $1.62 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.80 versus $2.31).
  • 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 92.8% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $21.37 million to $41.21 million.
  • Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 12.3%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 8.9%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.

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

Lorillard

Dividend Yield: 4.70%

Lorillard (NYSE: LO) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.70%.

Lorillard, Inc. manufactures and sells cigarettes in the United States. The company operates through two segments, Cigarettes and Electronic Cigarettes. The Cigarettes segment manufactures and sells cigarettes. The company has a P/E ratio of 14.95.

The average volume for Lorillard has been 3,226,200 shares per day over the past 30 days. Lorillard has a market cap of $17.6 billion and is part of the tobacco industry. Shares are up 19.6% year to date as of the close of trading on Monday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Lorillard as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, expanding profit margins, good cash flow from operations, impressive record of earnings per share growth and increase in net income. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • LO's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 5.9%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 5.9%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • The gross profit margin for LORILLARD INC is rather high; currently it is at 64.53%. It has increased significantly from the same period last year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 29.23% is above that of the industry average.
  • Net operating cash flow has slightly increased to $699.00 million or 1.30% when compared to the same quarter last year. The firm also exceeded the industry average cash flow growth rate of -12.34%.
  • LORILLARD INC reported significant earnings per share improvement 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 two years. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, LORILLARD INC increased its bottom line by earning $2.81 versus $2.67 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($3.10 versus $2.81).
  • 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 Tobacco industry average. The net income increased by 47.1% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $223.00 million to $328.00 million.

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

BCE

Dividend Yield: 5.50%

BCE (NYSE: BCE) shares currently have a dividend yield of 5.50%.

BCE Inc. provides communications solutions to residential, business, and wholesale customers primarily in Canada. The company has a P/E ratio of 12.25.

The average volume for BCE has been 853,300 shares per day over the past 30 days. BCE has a market cap of $32.4 billion and is part of the telecommunications industry. Shares are down 4.7% year to date as of the close of trading on Monday.

TheStreet Ratings rates BCE 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, growth in earnings per share and increase in net income. 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:
  • BCE's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 0.8%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 0.2%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.
  • BCE INC has improved earnings per share by 5.8% 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 two years. During the past fiscal year, BCE INC increased its bottom line by earning $3.34 versus $2.87 in the prior year.
  • 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. In comparison to the other companies in the Diversified Telecommunication Services industry and the overall market, BCE INC's return on equity significantly exceeds that of the industry average and is above that of the S&P 500.
  • 48.75% is the gross profit margin for BCE INC which we consider to be strong. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 12.17% is above that of the industry average.
  • The company, on the basis of net income growth from the same quarter one year ago, has underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500 and the Diversified Telecommunication Services industry average. The net income increased by 5.8% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $566.00 million to $599.00 million.

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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