4 Stocks Going Ex-Dividend Monday: HGT, WES, AOS, CAG

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.

Monday, July 29, 2013, 31 U.S. common stocks are scheduled to go ex-dividend. The dividend yields on these stocks range from 0.7% to 11.5%. All of these stocks can be found on our stocks going ex-dividend section of our dividend calendar.

Highlighted Stocks Going Ex-Dividend Monday:

Hugoton Royalty

Owners of Hugoton Royalty (NYSE: HGT) shares as of market close today will be eligible for a dividend of 10 cents per share. At a price of $9.20 as of 9:30 a.m. ET, the dividend yield is 7.2%.

The average volume for Hugoton Royalty has been 118,400 shares per day over the past 30 days. Hugoton Royalty has a market cap of $368.4 million and is part of the energy industry. Shares are up 24.8% year to date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

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Hugoton Royalty Trust operates as an express trust in the United States. The company holds an 80% net profits interests in certain natural gas producing working interest properties of XTO Energy Inc. XTO Energy Inc. The company has a P/E ratio of 17.38.

TheStreet Ratings rates Hugoton Royalty as a hold. 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 increase in stock price during the past year. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including feeble growth in the company's earnings per share, deteriorating net income and disappointing return on equity. You can view the full Hugoton Royalty Ratings Report now.

Western Gas Partners

Owners of Western Gas Partners (NYSE: WES) shares as of market close today will be eligible for a dividend of 56 cents per share. At a price of $60.99 as of 9:30 a.m. ET, the dividend yield is 3.7%.

The average volume for Western Gas Partners has been 288,100 shares per day over the past 30 days. Western Gas Partners has a market cap of $6.9 billion and is part of the energy industry. Shares are up 28.4% year to date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

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Western Gas Partners, LP owns, operates, acquires, and develops midstream energy assets in east, west, and south Texas; the Rocky Mountains; and the Mid-Continent. The company has a P/E ratio of 91.28.

TheStreet Ratings rates Western Gas Partners as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, good cash flow from operations, expanding profit margins and solid stock price performance. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income. You can view the full Western Gas Partners Ratings Report now.

A.O. Smith Corporation

Owners of A.O. Smith Corporation (NYSE: AOS) shares as of market close today will be eligible for a dividend of 12 cents per share. At a price of $40.98 as of 9:35 a.m. ET, the dividend yield is 1.2%.

The average volume for A.O. Smith Corporation has been 809,700 shares per day over the past 30 days. A.O. Smith Corporation has a market cap of $3.3 billion and is part of the industrial industry. Shares are up 30.5% year to date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

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A. O. Smith Corporation engages in the manufacture and sale of water heaters and boilers to the residential and commercial markets primarily in the United States, Canada, Europe, India, and China. The company operates in two segments, North America and Rest of World. The company has a P/E ratio of 20.50.

TheStreet Ratings rates A.O. Smith Corporation as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, solid stock price performance, expanding profit margins and good cash flow from operations. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income. You can view the full A.O. Smith Corporation Ratings Report now.

ConAgra Foods

Owners of ConAgra Foods (NYSE: CAG) shares as of market close today will be eligible for a dividend of 25 cents per share. At a price of $36.64 as of 9:35 a.m. ET, the dividend yield is 2.7%.

The average volume for ConAgra Foods has been 3.2 million shares per day over the past 30 days. ConAgra Foods has a market cap of $15.4 billion and is part of the food & beverage industry. Shares are up 25.1% year to date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

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ConAgra Foods, Inc. operates as a food company primarily in North America. The company operates through two segments, Consumer Foods and Commercial Foods. The company has a P/E ratio of 19.85.

TheStreet Ratings rates ConAgra Foods as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, solid stock price performance, impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income and reasonable valuation levels. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally high debt management risk by most measures that we evaluated. You can view the full ConAgra Foods Ratings Report now.

More About Dividends:

One benefit of owning a stock is the potential that you will be paid a dividend. The distribution of dividend payments is another way for a company to share its profit with you. A dividend means that the company pays you a certain amount of money, either as a one-time payment or more commonly on a quarterly basis, for each share of stock you own.

Many times, dividends come at the expense of greater price appreciation, because the company is distributing its profits to shareholders rather than reinvesting the profits back into the growth of the company. However, companies that pay dividends can be very attractive to investors when they offer a steady stream of income. There are some important terms and dates an investor should be familiar with before purchasing any dividend-paying companies. Let's work through an example to help better explain some of these terms:

On March 1, ABC Widget Company has decided that because it holds excess cash and lacks investment opportunities, it would like to reward shareholders with a regular quarterly dividend payment. The date for this particular announcement is known as the declaration date. It is on this date that the company announces the specific dividend payment along with the holder of record date (aka record date) and the payment date. The company announces that a dividend payment of 25 cents per share will be payable March 31, 2012 (the payment date) to all shareholders of record at the close of business on March 16, 2012 (holder of record date). What does this all mean? Well the short story is that the company looks at its records on March 16 and anyone listed on the books as an owner of ABC Widget company will be eligible for the dividend payment (on March 31).

The one other important term to remember is the ex-dividend date. The ex-dividend date (typically two trading days before the holder of record date for U.S. securities) is the day in which a company begins trading without the dividend. In order to have a claim on a dividend, shares must be purchased no later than the last business day before the ex-dividend date. A company trading ex-dividend will have the upcoming dividend subtracted from the share price at the start of the trading day. Many times, the price of a stock will increase in anticipation of the upcoming dividend as the ex-dividend date approaches, yet will fall back by the amount of the dividend on the ex-dividend date.
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