3 Buy-Rated Dividend Stocks: DRI, CPWR, WR

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."

Darden Restaurants

Dividend Yield: 4.40%

Darden Restaurants (NYSE: DRI) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.40%.

Darden Restaurants, Inc. owns and operates full service restaurants in the United States and Canada. It operates restaurants under the Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, Eddie V's Prime Seafood, and Wildfish Seafood Grille brand names. The company has a P/E ratio of 15.78.

The average volume for Darden Restaurants has been 1,361,500 shares per day over the past 30 days. Darden Restaurants has a market cap of $6.5 billion and is part of the leisure industry. Shares are up 10% year to date as of the close of trading on Monday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Darden Restaurants as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, reasonable valuation levels and good cash flow from operations. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had somewhat weak growth in earnings per share.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • DRI's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 3.6%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 11.3%. 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.
  • Net operating cash flow has increased to $259.60 million or 22.68% when compared to the same quarter last year. The firm also exceeded the industry average cash flow growth rate of -9.73%.
  • Current return on equity is lower than its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a clear sign of weakness within the company. Compared to other companies in the Hotels, Restaurants & Leisure industry and the overall market on the basis of return on equity, DARDEN RESTAURANTS INC has underperformed in comparison with the industry average, but has exceeded that of the S&P 500.
  • Reflecting the weaknesses we have cited, including the decline in the company's earnings per share, DRI has underperformed the S&P 500 Index, declining 7.35% 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.

Compuware Corporation

Dividend Yield: 4.50%

Compuware Corporation (NASDAQ: CPWR) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.50%.

Compuware Corporation provides services, software, and practices for information technology (IT) organizations worldwide.

The average volume for Compuware Corporation has been 1,809,900 shares per day over the past 30 days. Compuware Corporation has a market cap of $2.4 billion and is part of the computer software & services industry. Shares are up 2.8% year to date as of the close of trading on Monday.

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

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 8.9%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 0.6%. This growth in revenue does not appear to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, displaying stagnant earnings per share.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 58.06% to $28.65 million when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, COMPUWARE CORP has also vastly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of -13.21%.
  • CPWR's debt-to-equity ratio is very low at 0.02 and is currently below that of the industry average, implying that there has been very successful management of debt levels. Although the company had a strong debt-to-equity ratio, its quick ratio of 0.85 is somewhat weak and could be cause for future problems.
  • 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.
  • COMPUWARE CORP reported flat earnings per share in the most recent quarter. The company has suffered a declining pattern of earnings per share over the past two years. However, we anticipate this trend to reverse over the coming year. During the past fiscal year, COMPUWARE CORP swung to a loss, reporting -$0.08 versus $0.40 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($0.48 versus -$0.08).

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

Westar Energy

Dividend Yield: 4.10%

Westar Energy (NYSE: WR) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.10%.

Westar Energy, Inc., an electric utility, engages in the generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity in Kansas. The company has a P/E ratio of 14.05.

The average volume for Westar Energy has been 825,000 shares per day over the past 30 days. Westar Energy has a market cap of $4.2 billion and is part of the utilities industry. Shares are up 16.7% year to date as of the close of trading on Monday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Westar Energy as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its increase in net income, revenue growth, increase in stock price during the past year and growth in earnings per share. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows low profit margins.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the Electric Utilities industry average, but is less than that of the S&P 500. The net income increased by 7.1% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $62.73 million to $67.19 million.
  • WR's revenue growth trails the industry average of 16.8%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 0.6%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.
  • 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. 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.
  • WESTAR ENERGY INC has improved earnings per share by 8.3% 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. However, we anticipate underperformance relative to this pattern in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, WESTAR ENERGY INC increased its bottom line by earning $2.14 versus $1.96 in the prior year. For the next year, the market is expecting a contraction of 1.4% in earnings ($2.11 versus $2.14).
  • The gross profit margin for WESTAR ENERGY INC is currently lower than what is desirable, coming in at 34.96%. It has decreased from the same quarter the previous year. Regardless of the weak results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of 11.79% is above that of 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.

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