Hold These Top 3 Hold-Rated Dividend Stocks Today: HME, FE, 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."

Home Properties

Dividend Yield: 4.80%

Home Properties (NYSE: HME) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.80%.

Home Properties, Inc. is an independent real estate investment trust. The firm invests in the real estate markets of the United States. It is engaged in the ownership, management, acquisition, rehabilitation and development of residential apartment communities. The company has a P/E ratio of 36.63.

The average volume for Home Properties has been 546,800 shares per day over the past 30 days. Home Properties has a market cap of $3.3 billion and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are down 3.3% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Home Properties as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income and revenue growth. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including poor profit margins and a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • HOME PROPERTIES 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. This trend suggests that the performance of the business is improving. During the past fiscal year, HOME PROPERTIES INC increased its bottom line by earning $1.27 versus $0.81 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.58 versus $1.27).
  • 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 97.0% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $13.73 million to $27.04 million.
  • Net operating cash flow has slightly increased to $74.98 million or 4.53% when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite an increase in cash flow, HOME PROPERTIES INC's average is still marginally south of the industry average growth rate of 5.77%.
  • HME has underperformed the S&P 500 Index, declining 7.50% from its price level of one year ago. The fact that the stock is now selling for less than others in its industry in relation to its current earnings is not reason enough to justify a buy rating at this time.
  • The gross profit margin for HOME PROPERTIES INC is currently lower than what is desirable, coming in at 34.07%. Regardless of HME's low profit margin, it has managed to increase from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, HME's net profit margin of 16.17% is significantly lower than 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.

FirstEnergy

Dividend Yield: 5.80%

FirstEnergy (NYSE: FE) shares currently have a dividend yield of 5.80%.

FirstEnergy Corp., a diversified energy holding company, engages in the generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity in the United States. The company operates in Regulated Distribution, Regulated Transmission, and Competitive Energy Services segments. The company has a P/E ratio of 51.59.

The average volume for FirstEnergy has been 3,556,900 shares per day over the past 30 days. FirstEnergy has a market cap of $16.0 billion and is part of the utilities industry. Shares are down 8.7% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday.

TheStreet Ratings rates FirstEnergy as a hold. The company's strongest point has been its expanding profit margins. At the same time, however, we also find weaknesses including deteriorating net income, generally higher debt management risk and disappointing return on equity.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • FE, with its decline in revenue, underperformed when compared the industry average of 15.9%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 9.3%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • FIRSTENERGY CORP has exprienced a steep decline in earnings per share in the most recent quarter in comparison to its performance from the same quarter a year ago. The company has reported a trend of declining earnings per share over the past two years. However, the consensus estimate suggests that this trend should reverse in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, FIRSTENERGY CORP reported lower earnings of $1.84 versus $2.13 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($3.00 versus $1.84).
  • The gross profit margin for FIRSTENERGY CORP is currently lower than what is desirable, coming in at 27.42%. Regardless of FE's low profit margin, it has managed to increase from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, FE's net profit margin of -4.66% significantly underperformed when compared to the industry average.
  • Currently the debt-to-equity ratio of 1.61 is quite high overall and when compared to the industry average, suggesting that the current management of debt levels should be re-evaluated. Along with this, the company manages to maintain a quick ratio of 0.26, which clearly demonstrates the inability to cover short-term cash needs.
  • 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 Electric Utilities industry and the overall market on the basis of return on equity, FIRSTENERGY CORP underperformed against that of the industry average and is significantly less than that of 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.

EV Energy Partner

Dividend Yield: 8.40%

EV Energy Partner (NASDAQ: EVEP) shares currently have a dividend yield of 8.40%.

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 352,000 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 35.5% 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 revenue growth, expanding profit margins and increase in net income. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including disappointing return on equity, weak operating cash flow and a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The revenue growth greatly exceeded the industry average of 10.3%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 28.4%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • The gross profit margin for EV ENERGY PARTNERS LP is rather high; currently it is at 59.66%. It has increased significantly from the same period last year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 40.26% significantly outperformed against the industry average.
  • EV ENERGY PARTNERS LP reported significant earnings per share improvement in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. But, we feel it is poised for EPS growth in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, EV ENERGY PARTNERS LP swung to a loss, reporting -$0.35 versus $2.56 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($0.16 versus -$0.35).
  • 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.
  • Net operating cash flow has decreased to $29.02 million or 46.78% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, when comparing the cash generation rate to the industry average, the firm's growth is significantly lower.

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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