3 Hold-Rated Dividend Stocks: MFA, BMO, EVEP

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 "Hold."

MFA Financial

Dividend Yield: 11.50%

MFA Financial (NYSE: MFA) shares currently have a dividend yield of 11.50%.

MFA Financial, Inc., a real estate investment trust (REIT), invests in residential agency and non-agency mortgage-backed securities (MBS). The company has a P/E ratio of 9.65.

The average volume for MFA Financial has been 3,761,400 shares per day over the past 30 days. MFA Financial has a market cap of $2.8 billion and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are down 5.4% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday.

TheStreet Ratings rates MFA Financial as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its attractive valuation levels, expanding profit margins and increase in net income. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including disappointing return on equity, feeble growth in the company's earnings per share and a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The gross profit margin for MFA FINANCIAL INC is currently very high, coming in at 91.33%. Regardless of MFA's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, MFA's net profit margin of 60.36% significantly outperformed against the industry.
  • MFA, with its decline in revenue, slightly underperformed the industry average of 9.2%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 0.2%. The declining revenue appears to have seeped down to the company's bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • MFA FINANCIAL INC' earnings per share from the most recent quarter came in slightly below the year earlier quarter. Earnings per share have declined over the last two years. We anticipate that this should continue in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, MFA FINANCIAL INC reported lower earnings of $0.83 versus $0.91 in the prior year. For the next year, the market is expecting a contraction of 3.6% in earnings ($0.80 versus $0.83).
  • 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. When compared to other companies in the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry and the overall market, MFA FINANCIAL 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.

Bank of Montreal

Dividend Yield: 4.70%

Bank of Montreal (NYSE: BMO) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.70%.

Bank of Montreal, together with its subsidiaries, provides various retail banking, wealth management, and investment banking products and services in North America and internationally. The company has a P/E ratio of 10.42.

The average volume for Bank of Montreal has been 501,200 shares per day over the past 30 days. Bank of Montreal has a market cap of $39.9 billion and is part of the banking industry. Shares are up 0.9% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Bank of Montreal as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its good cash flow from operations, increase in stock price during the past year and expanding profit margins. However, as a counter to these strengths, we find that the growth in the company's net income has been quite unimpressive.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 178.46% to $2,598.00 million when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, BANK OF MONTREAL has also vastly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of 101.26%.
  • 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. Despite the fact that it has already risen in the past year, there is currently no conclusive evidence that warrants the purchase or sale of this stock.
  • Regardless of the drop in revenue, the company managed to outperform against the industry average of 3.3%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 1.5%. The declining revenue appears to have seeped down to the company's bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • 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 Commercial Banks industry and the overall market, BANK OF MONTREAL's return on equity exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • The change in net income from the same quarter one year ago has exceeded that of the Commercial Banks industry average, but is less than that of the S&P 500. The net income has decreased by 5.2% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, dropping from $1,010.00 million to $957.00 million.

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

EV Energy Partner

Dividend Yield: 8.00%

EV Energy Partner (NASDAQ: EVEP) shares currently have a dividend yield of 8.00%.

EV Energy Partners, L.P. engages in the acquisition, development, and production of oil and natural gas properties in the United States.

The average volume for EV Energy Partner has been 389,500 shares per day over the past 30 days. EV Energy Partner has a market cap of $1.6 billion and is part of the energy industry. Shares are down 31% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday.

TheStreet Ratings rates EV Energy Partner 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 and expanding profit margins. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including deteriorating net income, disappointing return on equity and weak operating cash flow.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Regardless of the drop in revenue, the company managed to outperform against the industry average of 10.2%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 5.2%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • EVEP's debt-to-equity ratio of 0.96 is somewhat low overall, but it is high when compared to the industry average, implying that the management of the debt levels should be evaluated further. Regardless of the somewhat mixed results with the debt-to-equity ratio, the company's quick ratio of 1.14 is sturdy.
  • The company, on the basis of change in net income from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500 and the Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 262.9% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $28.59 million to -$46.58 million.
  • Return on equity has greatly decreased when compared to its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a signal of major weakness within the corporation. Compared to other companies in the Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry and the overall market, EV ENERGY PARTNERS LP's return on equity significantly trails 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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