3 Buy-Rated Dividend Stocks: COP, MO, PBCT

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

ConocoPhillips

Dividend Yield: 4.20%

ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.20%.

ConocoPhillips explores for, produces, transports, and markets crude oil, bitumen, natural gas, liquefied natural gas, and natural gas liquids on a worldwide basis. The company has a P/E ratio of 11.17.

The average volume for ConocoPhillips has been 6,593,800 shares per day over the past 30 days. ConocoPhillips has a market cap of $80.3 billion and is part of the energy industry. Shares are up 13.3% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday.

TheStreet Ratings rates ConocoPhillips as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its attractive valuation levels, expanding profit margins, good cash flow from operations, notable return on equity 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:
  • 40.61% is the gross profit margin for CONOCOPHILLIPS which we consider to be strong. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 15.09% is above that of the industry average.
  • Net operating cash flow has increased to $4,730.00 million or 13.10% when compared to the same quarter last year. The firm also exceeded the industry average cash flow growth rate of -26.07%.
  • 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 on the basis of return on equity, CONOCOPHILLIPS has underperformed in comparison with the industry average, but has exceeded that of the S&P 500.
  • 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.

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

Altria Group

Dividend Yield: 4.90%

Altria Group (NYSE: MO) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.90%.

Altria Group, Inc., through its subsidiaries, engages in the manufacture and sale of cigarettes, smokeless products, and wine in the United States and internationally. The company has a P/E ratio of 16.24.

The average volume for Altria Group has been 9,301,200 shares per day over the past 30 days. Altria Group has a market cap of $72.0 billion and is part of the tobacco industry. Shares are up 14.2% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Altria Group as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its growth in earnings per share, notable return on equity, expanding profit margins, good cash flow from operations 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.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • ALTRIA GROUP INC has improved earnings per share by 5.0% 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, ALTRIA GROUP INC increased its bottom line by earning $2.06 versus $1.64 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.39 versus $2.06).
  • 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 Tobacco industry and the overall market, ALTRIA GROUP INC's return on equity significantly exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • The gross profit margin for ALTRIA GROUP INC is rather high; currently it is at 57.47%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 27.97% is above that of the industry average.
  • Net operating cash flow has increased to -$1,223.00 million or 36.36% when compared to the same quarter last year. The firm also exceeded the industry average cash flow growth rate of -10.32%.

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

People's United Financial

Dividend Yield: 4.20%

People's United Financial (NASDAQ: PBCT) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.20%.

People's United Financial, Inc. operates as the bank holding company for People's United Bank that provides commercial banking, retail and business banking, and wealth management services to individual, corporate, and municipal customers. The company has a P/E ratio of 21.39.

The average volume for People's United Financial has been 3,928,100 shares per day over the past 30 days. People's United Financial has a market cap of $5.1 billion and is part of the banking industry. Shares are up 27.2% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday.

TheStreet Ratings rates People's United Financial as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its solid stock price performance, growth in earnings per share, expanding profit margins 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:
  • 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 34.08% 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, PBCT should continue to move higher despite the fact that it has already enjoyed a very nice gain in the past year.
  • PEOPLE'S UNITED FINL INC has improved earnings per share by 5.3% 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, PEOPLE'S UNITED FINL INC increased its bottom line by earning $0.72 versus $0.57 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($0.78 versus $0.72).
  • The revenue fell significantly faster than the industry average of 40.0%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 0.6%. The declining revenue has not hurt the company's bottom line, with increasing earnings per share.
  • The gross profit margin for PEOPLE'S UNITED FINL INC is currently very high, coming in at 88.58%. Regardless of PBCT's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, PBCT's net profit margin of 18.47% is significantly lower than the industry average.
  • 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. When compared to other companies in the Thrifts & Mortgage Finance industry and the overall market, PEOPLE'S UNITED FINL INC's return on equity is below that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.

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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