5 Buy-Rated Dividend Stocks: NNN, MAC, AEE, TOT, 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 5 stocks with substantial yields, that ultimately, we have rated "Buy."

National Retail Properties

Dividend Yield: 4.80%

National Retail Properties (NYSE: NNN) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.80%.

National Retail Properties, Inc. is a publicly owned equity real estate investment trust. The firm acquires, owns, manages, and develops retail properties in the United States. The company has a P/E ratio of 33.11.

The average volume for National Retail Properties has been 1,563,100 shares per day over the past 30 days. National Retail Properties has a market cap of $4.1 billion and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are up 7.2% year to date as of the close of trading on Tuesday.

TheStreet Ratings rates National Retail Properties as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, expanding profit margins, growth in earnings per share, 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:
  • NNN's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 9.4%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 15.2%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.
  • The gross profit margin for NATIONAL RETAIL PROPERTIES is rather high; currently it is at 62.68%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 43.76% significantly outperformed against the industry average.
  • NATIONAL RETAIL PROPERTIES's earnings per share improvement from the most recent quarter was slightly positive. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, NATIONAL RETAIL PROPERTIES increased its bottom line by earning $0.98 versus $0.90 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.09 versus $0.98).
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has exceeded that of the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry average, but is less than that of the S&P 500. The net income increased by 16.7% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $38.02 million to $44.35 million.
  • 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.

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

Macerich Company

Dividend Yield: 4.30%

Macerich Company (NYSE: MAC) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.30%.

The Macerich Company is an independent real estate investment trust. The firm invests in the real estate markets of the United States. The company has a P/E ratio of 24.58.

The average volume for Macerich Company has been 839,600 shares per day over the past 30 days. Macerich Company has a market cap of $8.2 billion and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are down 0.9% year to date as of the close of trading on Tuesday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Macerich Company as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, good cash flow from operations, increase in stock price during the past year and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 9.4%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 35.4%. 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 $146.07 million or 30.90% when compared to the same quarter last year. The firm also exceeded the industry average cash flow growth rate of 1.41%.
  • Compared to where it was 12 months ago, the stock is up, but it has so far lagged the appreciation in the S&P 500. 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.
  • MACERICH CO's earnings per share declined by 9.7% 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, MACERICH CO increased its bottom line by earning $1.92 versus $1.73 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.22 versus $1.92).
  • 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. When compared to other companies in the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry and the overall market, MACERICH CO's return on equity is below that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.

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

Ameren

Dividend Yield: 4.30%

Ameren (NYSE: AEE) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.30%.

Ameren Corporation operates as a public utility holding company in the United States. It operates in three segments: Ameren Missouri, Ameren Illinois, and Merchant Generation.

The average volume for Ameren has been 1,604,300 shares per day over the past 30 days. Ameren has a market cap of $9.0 billion and is part of the utilities industry. Shares are up 20.5% year to date as of the close of trading on Tuesday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Ameren as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its expanding profit margins, increase in stock price during the past year and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • 45.30% is the gross profit margin for AMEREN CORP which we consider to be strong. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 18.43% is above that of the industry average.
  • Compared to where it was 12 months ago, the stock is up, but it has so far lagged the appreciation in the S&P 500. 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 debt-to-equity ratio is somewhat low, currently at 0.92, and is less than that of the industry average, implying that there has been a relatively successful effort in the management of debt levels. Even though the company has a strong debt-to-equity ratio, the quick ratio of 0.23 is very weak and demonstrates a lack of ability to pay short-term obligations.
  • Regardless of the drop in revenue, the company managed to outperform against the industry average of 5.4%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 4.2%. The declining revenue appears to have seeped down to the company's bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • AMEREN CORP' earnings per share from the most recent quarter came in slightly below the year earlier quarter. 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, AMEREN CORP swung to a loss, reporting -$2.67 versus $2.14 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.10 versus -$2.67).

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

Total

Dividend Yield: 4.50%

Total (NYSE: TOT) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.50%.

TOTAL S.A., together with its subsidiaries, operates as a oil and gas company worldwide. The company operates in three segments: Upstream, Refining and Chemicals, and Marketing and Services. The company has a P/E ratio of 7.16.

The average volume for Total has been 1,335,400 shares per day over the past 30 days. Total has a market cap of $135.8 billion and is part of the energy industry. Shares are up 14.7% year to date as of the close of trading on Tuesday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Total as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, attractive valuation levels, good cash flow from operations, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures 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:
  • TOT's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 5.5%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 2.0%. 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.
  • Net operating cash flow has increased to $9,802.00 million or 43.04% when compared to the same quarter last year. The firm also exceeded the industry average cash flow growth rate of 0.84%.
  • The current debt-to-equity ratio, 0.46, is low and is below the industry average, implying that there has been successful management of debt levels. Although the company had a strong debt-to-equity ratio, its quick ratio of 0.77 is somewhat weak and could be cause for future problems.
  • TOT's share price is up by an impressive 25.19% over the past year, but this positive result lagged behind an even stronger performance in the stock market as a whole, as reflected in the S&P 500 Index. Regarding the stock's future course, although almost any stock can fall in a broad market decline, TOT should continue to move higher despite the fact that it has already enjoyed a very nice gain 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.

W. P. Carey

Dividend Yield: 5.30%

W. P. Carey (NYSE: WPC) shares currently have a dividend yield of 5.30%.

W. P. Carey Inc. is an independent equity real estate investment trust. The firm also provides long-term sale-leaseback and build-to-suit financing for companies. It invests in the real estate markets across the globe. The company has a P/E ratio of 71.86.

The average volume for W. P. Carey has been 276,100 shares per day over the past 30 days. W. P. Carey has a market cap of $4.4 billion and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are up 24.1% year to date as of the close of trading on Tuesday.

TheStreet Ratings rates W. P. Carey as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, solid stock price performance, compelling growth in net income, expanding profit margins and notable return on equity. Although the company may harbor some minor weaknesses, we feel they are unlikely to have a significant impact on results.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • WPC's very impressive revenue growth greatly exceeded the industry average of 9.4%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues leaped by 99.1%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.
  • Investors have apparently begun to recognize positive factors similar to those we have mentioned in this report, including earnings growth. This has helped drive up the company's shares by a sharp 37.49% over the past year, a rise that has exceeded that of the S&P 500 Index. Regarding the stock's future course, although almost any stock can fall in a broad market decline, WPC should continue to move higher despite the fact that it has already enjoyed a very nice gain in the past year.
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry. The net income increased by 615.1% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $2.59 million to $18.51 million.
  • The gross profit margin for W P CAREY INC is currently very high, coming in at 76.74%. It has increased significantly from the same period last year. Regardless of the strong results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of 13.41% 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. When compared to other companies in the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry and the overall market, W P CAREY INC's return on equity is below that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.

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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