3 Hold-Rated Dividend Stocks Taking The Lead: WIN, PBI, WRI

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."

Windstream Holdings

Dividend Yield: 11.70%

Windstream Holdings (NASDAQ: WIN) shares currently have a dividend yield of 11.70%.

Windstream Holdings, Inc. provides communications and technology solutions in the United States. The company offers managed services and cloud computing services to businesses, as well as broadband, voice, and video services to consumers primarily in rural markets. The company has a P/E ratio of 35.62.

The average volume for Windstream Holdings has been 6,106,700 shares per day over the past 30 days. Windstream Holdings has a market cap of $5.1 billion and is part of the telecommunications industry. Shares are up 3.3% year to date as of the close of trading on Tuesday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Windstream Holdings as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its good cash flow from operations, expanding profit margins and notable return on equity. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including deteriorating net income, generally higher debt management risk and a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Net operating cash flow has slightly increased to $408.00 million or 2.51% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, WINDSTREAM HOLDINGS INC has also modestly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of -2.11%.
  • The gross profit margin for WINDSTREAM HOLDINGS INC is rather high; currently it is at 53.43%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Regardless of the strong results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of 2.63% trails the industry average.
  • 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 Diversified Telecommunication Services industry and the overall market on the basis of return on equity, WINDSTREAM HOLDINGS INC has underperformed in comparison with the industry average, but has exceeded that of the S&P 500.
  • The company, on the basis of change in net income from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly underperformed against the S&P 500 and did not exceed that of the Diversified Telecommunication Services industry. The net income has decreased by 22.1% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, dropping from $51.00 million to $39.70 million.
  • The debt-to-equity ratio is very high at 9.45 and currently higher than the industry average, implying increased risk associated with the management of debt levels within the company. To add to this, WIN has a quick ratio of 0.53, this demonstrates the lack of ability of the company to cover short-term liquidity needs.

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