What To Hold: 3 Hold-Rated Dividend Stocks STON, WSR, SMTP

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."

Stonemor Partners

Dividend Yield: 9.70%

Stonemor Partners (NYSE: STON) shares currently have a dividend yield of 9.70%.

StoneMor Partners L.P., together with its subsidiaries, engages in the ownership and operation of cemeteries in the United States. It operates through Cemetery Operations Southeast, Cemetery Operations Northeast, Cemetery Operations West, and Funeral Homes segments.

The average volume for Stonemor Partners has been 62,900 shares per day over the past 30 days. Stonemor Partners has a market cap of $531.1 million and is part of the diversified services industry. Shares are down 2.6% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

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

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Net operating cash flow has increased to $20.41 million or 22.95% when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite an increase in cash flow, STONEMOR PARTNERS LP's average is still marginally south of the industry average growth rate of 25.75%.
  • 49.84% is the gross profit margin for STONEMOR PARTNERS LP which we consider to be strong. Regardless of STON's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of -2.41% trails the industry average.
  • STON, with its decline in revenue, slightly underperformed the industry average of 4.2%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 1.1%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • Return on equity has greatly decreased when compared to its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a signal of major weakness within the corporation. Compared to other companies in the Diversified Consumer Services industry and the overall market, STONEMOR PARTNERS LP's return on equity significantly trails that of both the industry average and 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 Consumer Services industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 239.9% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $1.06 million to -$1.48 million.

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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