WSR, SAFM, BNS, DGX, DELL

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.

Whitestone REIT

Owners of Whitestone REIT (NYSE: WSR) shares as of market close today will be eligible for a dividend of 10 cents per share. At a price of $14.92 as of 4:04 p.m. ET, the dividend yield is 7.6%.

The average volume for Whitestone REIT has been 28,700 shares per day over the past 30 days. Whitestone REIT has a market cap of $256.4 million and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are up 6.1% 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.

WhiteStone REIT is a Maryland REIT engaged in owning and operating commercial properties in culturally diverse markets in major metropolitan areas. The company has a P/E ratio of 1491.00.

TheStreet Ratings rates Whitestone REIT as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, good cash flow from operations and increase in net income. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including disappointing return on equity and poor profit margins. You can view the full Whitestone REIT Ratings Report now.

Sanderson Farms

Owners of Sanderson Farms (NASDAQ: SAFM) shares as of market close today will be eligible for a dividend of 20 cents per share. At a price of $67.04 as of 4:00 p.m. ET, the dividend yield is 1.2%.

The average volume for Sanderson Farms has been 212,300 shares per day over the past 30 days. Sanderson Farms has a market cap of $1.5 billion and is part of the food & beverage industry. Shares are up 41.3% 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.

Sanderson Farms, Inc., an integrated poultry processing company, engages in the production, processing, marketing, and distribution of fresh, frozen, and prepared chicken products in the United States. The company has a P/E ratio of 16.31.

TheStreet Ratings rates Sanderson Farms as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, solid stock price performance, impressive record of earnings per share growth and compelling growth in net income. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows low profit margins. You can view the full Sanderson Farms Ratings Report now.

Bank of Nova Scotia

Owners of Bank of Nova Scotia (NYSE: BNS) shares as of market close today will be eligible for a dividend of 59 cents per share. At a price of $57.80 as of 4:01 p.m. ET, the dividend yield is 4.1%.

The average volume for Bank of Nova Scotia has been 523,700 shares per day over the past 30 days. Bank of Nova Scotia has a market cap of $69.6 billion and is part of the banking industry. Shares are down 0.1% 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.

The company has a P/E ratio of 11.83.

Quest Diagnostics

Owners of Quest Diagnostics (NYSE: DGX) shares as of market close today will be eligible for a dividend of 30 cents per share. At a price of $62.18 as of 4:04 p.m. ET, the dividend yield is 1.9%.

The average volume for Quest Diagnostics has been 1.3 million shares per day over the past 30 days. Quest Diagnostics has a market cap of $9.5 billion and is part of the health services industry. Shares are up 7.2% 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.

The company has a P/E ratio of 17.50.

Dell

Owners of Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) shares as of market close today will be eligible for a dividend of 8 cents per share. At a price of $13.86 as of 4:00 p.m. ET, the dividend yield is 2.3%.

The average volume for Dell has been 24.6 million shares per day over the past 30 days. Dell has a market cap of $24.4 billion and is part of the computer hardware industry. Shares are up 36.8% 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.

The company has a P/E ratio of 18.02.

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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