ARCO, RCII, LRY, NLY

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.

Arcos Dorados Holdings

Owners of Arcos Dorados Holdings (NYSE: ARCO) shares as of market close today will be eligible for a dividend of 6 cents per share. At a price of $11.78 as of 4:01 p.m. ET, the dividend yield is 2%.

The average volume for Arcos Dorados Holdings has been 1.1 million shares per day over the past 30 days. Arcos Dorados Holdings has a market cap of $1.6 billion and is part of the leisure industry. Shares are up 1.2% year to date as of the close of trading on Tuesday.

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

Arcos Dorados Holdings Inc. operates as a franchisee of McDonald's restaurants. The company has a P/E ratio of 30.25.

TheStreet Ratings rates Arcos Dorados Holdings as a sell. The company's weaknesses can be seen in multiple areas, such as its generally disappointing historical performance in the stock itself, feeble growth in its earnings per share, deteriorating net income, generally high debt management risk and disappointing return on equity. You can view the full Arcos Dorados Holdings Ratings Report now.

Rent-A-Center

Owners of Rent-A-Center (NASDAQ: RCII) shares as of market close today will be eligible for a dividend of 21 cents per share. At a price of $37.79 as of 4:00 p.m. ET, the dividend yield is 2.2%.

The average volume for Rent-A-Center has been 442,100 shares per day over the past 30 days. Rent-A-Center has a market cap of $2.0 billion and is part of the specialty retail industry. Shares are up 9.4% year to date as of the close of trading on Tuesday.

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

Rent-A-Center, Inc., together with its subsidiaries, leases household durable goods to customers on a rent-to-own basis. It operates in four segments: Core U.S., RAC Acceptance, International, and ColorTyme. The company has a P/E ratio of 12.36.

TheStreet Ratings rates Rent-A-Center as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, attractive valuation levels, growth in earnings per share, expanding profit margins and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income. You can view the full Rent-A-Center Ratings Report now.

Liberty Property

Owners of Liberty Property (NYSE: LRY) shares as of market close today will be eligible for a dividend of 48 cents per share. At a price of $36.32 as of 4:05 p.m. ET, the dividend yield is 5.2%.

The average volume for Liberty Property has been 1.3 million shares per day over the past 30 days. Liberty Property has a market cap of $5.2 billion and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are up 1.9% year to date as of the close of trading on Tuesday.

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

Liberty Property Trust is a publicly owned real estate investment holding trust. Through its subsidiary, it provides leasing, property management, development, acquisition, and other tenant-related services for a portfolio of industrial and office properties. The company has a P/E ratio of 35.42.

TheStreet Ratings rates Liberty Property as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its growth in earnings per share, revenue growth, reasonable valuation levels, expanding profit margins and compelling growth in net income. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had somewhat disappointing return on equity. You can view the full Liberty Property Ratings Report now.

Annaly Capital Management

Owners of Annaly Capital Management (NYSE: NLY) shares as of market close today will be eligible for a dividend of 35 cents per share. At a price of $12.10 as of 4:00 p.m. ET, the dividend yield is 11.6%.

The average volume for Annaly Capital Management has been 12.1 million shares per day over the past 30 days. Annaly Capital Management has a market cap of $11.4 billion and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are down 14% year to date as of the close of trading on Tuesday.

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

Annaly Capital Management, Inc. owns, manages, and finances a portfolio of real estate related investments in United States. The company has a P/E ratio of 3.51.

TheStreet Ratings rates Annaly Capital Management as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its compelling growth in net income, notable return on equity and attractive valuation levels. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including weak operating cash flow and a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself. You can view the full Annaly Capital Management Ratings Report now.

More About Dividends:

One benefit of owning a stock is the potential that you will be paid a dividend. The distribution of dividend payments is another way for a company to share its profit with you. A dividend means that the company pays you a certain amount of money, either as a one-time payment or more commonly on a quarterly basis, for each share of stock you own.

Many times, dividends come at the expense of greater price appreciation, because the company is distributing its profits to shareholders rather than reinvesting the profits back into the growth of the company. However, companies that pay dividends can be very attractive to investors when they offer a steady stream of income. There are some important terms and dates an investor should be familiar with before purchasing any dividend-paying companies. Let's work through an example to help better explain some of these terms:

On March 1, ABC Widget Company has decided that because it holds excess cash and lacks investment opportunities, it would like to reward shareholders with a regular quarterly dividend payment. The date for this particular announcement is known as the declaration date. It is on this date that the company announces the specific dividend payment along with the holder of record date (aka record date) and the payment date. The company announces that a dividend payment of 25 cents per share will be payable March 31, 2012 (the payment date) to all shareholders of record at the close of business on March 16, 2012 (holder of record date). What does this all mean? Well the short story is that the company looks at its records on March 16 and anyone listed on the books as an owner of ABC Widget company will be eligible for the dividend payment (on March 31).

The one other important term to remember is the ex-dividend date. The ex-dividend date (typically two trading days before the holder of record date for U.S. securities) is the day in which a company begins trading without the dividend. In order to have a claim on a dividend, shares must be purchased no later than the last business day before the ex-dividend date. A company trading ex-dividend will have the upcoming dividend subtracted from the share price at the start of the trading day. Many times, the price of a stock will increase in anticipation of the upcoming dividend as the ex-dividend date approaches, yet will fall back by the amount of the dividend on the ex-dividend date.

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