Buy These Top 4 Buy-Rated Dividend Stocks Today: ED, VTR, WR, CLNY

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

Consolidated Edison

Dividend Yield: 4.40%

Consolidated Edison (NYSE: ED) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.40%.

Consolidated Edison, Inc., through its subsidiaries, engages in regulated electric, gas, and steam delivery businesses. The company has a P/E ratio of 16.32.

The average volume for Consolidated Edison has been 1,827,900 shares per day over the past 30 days. Consolidated Edison has a market cap of $16.4 billion and is part of the utilities industry. Shares are up 0.8% year to date as of the close of trading on Monday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Consolidated Edison 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 sub par growth in net income.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • ED's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 2.9%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 1.7%. 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 $1,057.00 million or 25.08% when compared to the same quarter last year. The firm also exceeded the industry average cash flow growth rate of 4.87%.
  • CONSOLIDATED EDISON INC's earnings per share declined by 19.2% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. We feel it is likely to report a decline in earnings in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, CONSOLIDATED EDISON INC increased its bottom line by earning $3.86 versus $3.57 in the prior year. For the next year, the market is expecting a contraction of 2.8% in earnings ($3.75 versus $3.86).
  • Even though the current debt-to-equity ratio is 1.04, it is still below the industry average, suggesting that this level of debt is acceptable within the Multi-Utilities industry. Despite the fact that ED's debt-to-equity ratio is mixed in its results, the company's quick ratio of 0.59 is low and demonstrates weak liquidity.

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

Ventas

Dividend Yield: 4.30%

Ventas (NYSE: VTR) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.30%.

Ventas, Inc. is a publicly owned real estate investment trust. The firm engages in investment, management, financing, and leasing of properties in the healthcare industry. It invests in the real estate markets of the United States and Canada. The company has a P/E ratio of 39.58.

The average volume for Ventas has been 1,670,600 shares per day over the past 30 days. Ventas has a market cap of $18.5 billion and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are down 2.8% year to date as of the close of trading on Monday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Ventas as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, reasonable valuation levels, good cash flow from operations, increase in net income and impressive record of earnings per share growth. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows low profit margins.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • VTR's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 10.8%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 11.9%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • 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 54.8% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $74.03 million to $114.58 million.
  • Net operating cash flow has increased to $277.38 million or 28.50% when compared to the same quarter last year. The firm also exceeded the industry average cash flow growth rate of 5.47%.
  • VENTAS INC 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, VENTAS INC reported lower earnings of $1.04 versus $1.41 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.60 versus $1.04).

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: 4.50%

Westar Energy (NYSE: WR) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.50%.

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 12.89.

The average volume for Westar Energy has been 735,300 shares per day over the past 30 days. Westar Energy has a market cap of $3.9 billion and is part of the utilities industry. Shares are up 6.8% 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, notable return on equity, 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 weak operating cash flow.

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 16.5%. 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.
  • 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 Electric Utilities industry and the overall market on the basis of return on equity, WESTAR ENERGY INC has outperformed in comparison with the industry average, but has underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500.
  • 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 1.9% in earnings ($2.10 versus $2.14).

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

Colony Financial

Dividend Yield: 6.90%

Colony Financial (NYSE: CLNY) shares currently have a dividend yield of 6.90%.

Colony Financial, Inc. operates as a real estate investment and finance company in the United States. The company has a P/E ratio of 18.04.

The average volume for Colony Financial has been 672,800 shares per day over the past 30 days. Colony Financial has a market cap of $1.4 billion and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are up 4.5% year to date as of the close of trading on Monday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Colony Financial as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, expanding profit margins, good cash flow from operations, compelling growth in net income and increase in stock price during the past year. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had somewhat disappointing return on equity.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • CLNY's very impressive revenue growth greatly exceeded the industry average of 10.8%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues leaped by 73.0%. 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.
  • The gross profit margin for COLONY FINANCIAL INC is currently very high, coming in at 80.37%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 57.87% significantly outperformed against the industry average.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 110.92% to $31.86 million when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, COLONY FINANCIAL INC has also vastly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of 5.47%.
  • 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 69.9% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $15.10 million to $25.65 million.
  • COLONY FINANCIAL INC's earnings per share declined by 13.9% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has suffered a declining pattern of earnings per share over the past year. However, we anticipate this trend reversing over the coming year. During the past fiscal year, COLONY FINANCIAL INC reported lower earnings of $1.34 versus $1.48 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.38 versus $1.34).

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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