Hold-Rated Dividend Stocks In The Top 3: CTL, VCI, POT

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."

CenturyLink

Dividend Yield: 7.10%

CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) shares currently have a dividend yield of 7.10%.

CenturyLink, Inc. operates as an integrated telecommunications company in the United States.

The average volume for CenturyLink has been 4,729,500 shares per day over the past 30 days. CenturyLink has a market cap of $18.0 billion and is part of the telecommunications industry. Shares are down 22.4% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

TheStreet Ratings rates CenturyLink as a hold. Among the primary strengths of the company is its expanding profit margins over time. At the same time, however, we also find weaknesses including deteriorating net income, disappointing return on equity and weak operating cash flow.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The gross profit margin for CENTURYLINK INC is rather high; currently it is at 57.59%. 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 -23.14% is in-line with the industry average.
  • Regardless of the drop in revenue, the company managed to outperform against the industry average of 3.4%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 1.2%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • CENTURYLINK INC has experienced a steep decline in earnings per share in the most recent quarter in comparison to its performance from the same quarter a year ago. The company has reported a trend of declining earnings per share over the past two years. However, the consensus estimate suggests that this trend should reverse in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, CENTURYLINK INC reported lower earnings of $1.24 versus $1.29 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.68 versus $1.24).
  • The company's current return on equity has slightly decreased from the same quarter one year prior. This implies a minor weakness in the organization. Compared to other companies in the Diversified Telecommunication Services industry and the overall market on the basis of return on equity, CENTURYLINK INC underperformed against that of the industry average and is significantly less than 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 when compared to that of the S&P 500 and the Diversified Telecommunication Services industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 487.0% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $270.00 million to -$1,045.00 million.

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Valassis Communications

Dividend Yield: 4.40%

Valassis Communications (NYSE: VCI) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.40%.

Valassis Communications, Inc., together with its subsidiaries, provides media solutions primarily in the United States and Europe. The company has a P/E ratio of 10.36.

The average volume for Valassis Communications has been 402,100 shares per day over the past 30 days. Valassis Communications has a market cap of $1.1 billion and is part of the media industry. Shares are up 8.2% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Valassis Communications as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its attractive valuation levels, increase in stock price during the past year and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including poor profit margins, weak operating cash flow and deteriorating net income.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • 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. Despite the fact that it has already risen in the past year, there is currently no conclusive evidence that warrants the purchase or sale of this stock.
  • VCI, with its decline in revenue, slightly underperformed the industry average of 3.3%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 6.6%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • The gross profit margin for VALASSIS COMMUNICATIONS INC is currently lower than what is desirable, coming in at 27.73%. It has decreased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 5.66% trails that of the industry average.
  • Net operating cash flow has decreased to $22.40 million or 45.87% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, when comparing to the industry average, the firm's growth rate is much lower.

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Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan

Dividend Yield: 4.40%

Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (NYSE: POT) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.40%.

Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc., together with its subsidiaries, produces and sells fertilizers and related industrial and feed products primarily in the United States and Canada. The company mines and produces potash, which is used as fertilizer. The company has a P/E ratio of 14.13.

The average volume for Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan has been 8,182,200 shares per day over the past 30 days. Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan has a market cap of $27.4 billion and is part of the chemicals industry. Shares are down 20.9% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its expanding profit margins and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including feeble growth in the company's earnings per share, deteriorating net income and weak operating cash flow.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • 40.99% is the gross profit margin for POTASH CORP SASK INC which we consider to be strong. Regardless of POT's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, POT's net profit margin of 23.42% significantly outperformed against the industry.
  • The current debt-to-equity ratio, 0.36, 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 0.80 is somewhat weak and could be cause for future problems.
  • The revenue fell significantly faster than the industry average of 7.4%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues fell by 29.1%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • The company, on the basis of change in net income from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500 and the Chemicals industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 44.8% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $645.00 million to $356.00 million.
  • Net operating cash flow has decreased to $616.00 million or 18.84% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, when comparing the cash generation rate to the industry average, the firm's growth is significantly lower.

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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