Best Of The Buy-Rated Dividend Stocks: Top 3 Companies: GEO, SO, WPC

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."

Geo Group

Dividend Yield: 6.40%

Geo Group (NYSE: GEO) shares currently have a dividend yield of 6.40%.

The GEO Group, Inc. provides government-outsourced services specializing in the management of correctional, detention, and re-entry facilities, and the provision of community based services and youth services in the United States, Australia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and Canada. The company has a P/E ratio of 11.96.

The average volume for Geo Group has been 539,000 shares per day over the past 30 days. Geo Group has a market cap of $2.2 billion and is part of the diversified services industry. Shares are up 8.3% year to date as of the close of trading on Tuesday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Geo Group as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its compelling growth in net income, revenue growth, notable return on equity, reasonable valuation levels and solid stock price performance. 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 greatly exceeded that of the S&P 500, but is less than that of the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry average. The net income increased by 52.0% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $22.50 million to $34.21 million.
  • Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 10.7%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 2.8%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • Current return on equity exceeded its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a clear sign of strength within the company. Compared to other companies in the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry and the overall market, GEO GROUP INC's return on equity exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • Compared to where it was a year ago today, the stock is now trading at a higher level, reflecting both the market's overall trend during that period and the fact that the company's earnings growth has been robust. 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.

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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