3 Sell-Rated Dividend Stocks: APTS, SXE, STB

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 "Sell."

Preferred Apartment Communities

Dividend Yield: 7.80%

Preferred Apartment Communities (AMEX: APTS) shares currently have a dividend yield of 7.80%.

Preferred Apartment Communities, Inc. is a real estate investment trust launched and managed by Preferred Apartment Advisors, LLC. The fund invests in real estate markets of the United States. It primarily acquires and operates multifamily apartment properties.

The average volume for Preferred Apartment Communities has been 52,900 shares per day over the past 30 days. Preferred Apartment Communities has a market cap of $123.1 million and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are up 2.6% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Preferred Apartment Communities as a sell. The company's weaknesses can be seen in multiple areas, such as its deteriorating net income, disappointing return on equity and feeble growth in its earnings per share.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • 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 Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 34.2% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $0.15 million to $0.10 million.
  • Current return on equity is lower than its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a clear sign of weakness within the company. Compared to other companies in the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry and the overall market, PREFERRED APARTMENT CMNTYS's return on equity significantly trails that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • PREFERRED APARTMENT CMNTYS's earnings have gone downhill when comparing its most recently reported quarter with the same quarter a year earlier. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. We feel it is likely to report a decline in earnings in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, PREFERRED APARTMENT CMNTYS continued to lose money by earning -$0.11 versus -$1.67 in the prior year. For the next year, the market is expecting a contraction of 1872.7% in earnings (-$2.17 versus -$0.11).
  • This stock's share value has moved by only 10.30% over the past year. The fact that the stock is now selling for less than others in its industry in relation to its current earnings is not reason enough to justify a buy rating at this time.
  • The gross profit margin for PREFERRED APARTMENT CMNTYS is rather high; currently it is at 61.13%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Despite the strong results of the gross profit margin, APTS's net profit margin of 1.11% significantly trails the industry average.

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

Southcross Energy Partners

Dividend Yield: 9.00%

Southcross Energy Partners (NYSE: SXE) shares currently have a dividend yield of 9.00%.

Southcross Energy Partners, L.P., a midstream natural gas company, provides natural gas gathering, processing, treating, compression, and transportation services in the United States. It also offers natural gas liquid (NGL) fractionation and transportation services. The company has a P/E ratio of 1.56.

The average volume for Southcross Energy Partners has been 168,000 shares per day over the past 30 days. Southcross Energy Partners has a market cap of $219.0 million and is part of the utilities industry. Shares are down 1.5% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Southcross Energy Partners as a sell. Among the areas we feel are negative, one of the most important has been poor profit margins.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The gross profit margin for SOUTHCROSS ENERGY PRTNRS LP is currently extremely low, coming in at 5.66%. Regardless of SXE's low profit margin, it has managed to increase from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of -2.53% trails the industry average.
  • The change in net income from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry average, but is less than that of the S&P 500. The net income has decreased by 0.7% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, dropping from -$4.04 million to -$4.07 million.
  • SXE's debt-to-equity ratio of 0.80 is somewhat low overall, but it is high when compared to the industry average, implying that the management of the debt levels should be evaluated further. Regardless of the somewhat mixed results with the debt-to-equity ratio, the company's quick ratio of 0.87 is weak.
  • Compared to other companies in the Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry and the overall market, SOUTHCROSS ENERGY PRTNRS LP's return on equity significantly trails that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • SXE has underperformed the S&P 500 Index, declining 22.36% from its price level of one year ago.

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

Student Transportation

Dividend Yield: 8.20%

Student Transportation (NASDAQ: STB) shares currently have a dividend yield of 8.20%.

Student Transportation Inc. provides school bus transportation services in North America. The company operates through two segments Transportation, and Oil and Gas. The Transportation segment provides school bus management services to public and private schools in North America. The company has a P/E ratio of 154.25.

The average volume for Student Transportation has been 133,900 shares per day over the past 30 days. Student Transportation has a market cap of $506.6 million and is part of the diversified services industry. Shares are down 1.1% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Student Transportation as a sell. The company's weaknesses can be seen in multiple areas, such as its generally disappointing historical performance in the stock itself, deteriorating net income, disappointing return on equity, poor profit margins and generally high debt management risk.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • STB has underperformed the S&P 500 Index, declining 6.57% from its price level of one year ago. Looking ahead, we do not see anything in this company's numbers that would change the one-year trend. It was down over the last twelve months; and it could be down again in the next twelve. Naturally, a bull or bear market could sway the movement of this stock.
  • The company, on the basis of change in net income from the same quarter one year ago, has underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500 and the Road & Rail industry average. The net income has decreased by 2.6% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, dropping from $2.98 million to $2.90 million.
  • 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 Road & Rail industry and the overall market, STUDENT TRANSPORTATION INC's return on equity significantly trails that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • The gross profit margin for STUDENT TRANSPORTATION INC is currently lower than what is desirable, coming in at 25.07%. It has decreased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 2.14% significantly trails the industry average.
  • Currently the debt-to-equity ratio of 1.60 is quite high overall and when compared to the industry average, suggesting that the current management of debt levels should be re-evaluated. Even though the debt-to-equity ratio is weak, STB's quick ratio is somewhat strong at 1.13, demonstrating the ability to handle short-term liquidity needs.

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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