What To Hold: 3 Hold-Rated Dividend Stocks MAA, PCL, FTR

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."

Mid-America Apartment Communities

Dividend Yield: 4.30%

Mid-America Apartment Communities (NYSE: MAA) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.30%.

Mid-America Apartment Communities, Inc. is an independent real estate investment trust. The firm invests in the real estate markets of the United States. It is engaged in acquisition, redevelopment, new development, property management, and disposition of multifamily apartment communities. The company has a P/E ratio of 96.29.

The average volume for Mid-America Apartment Communities has been 527,600 shares per day over the past 30 days. Mid-America Apartment Communities has a market cap of $5.1 billion and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are up 11.4% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Mid-America Apartment Communities as a hold. Among the primary strengths of the company is its robust revenue growth -- not just in the most recent periods but in previous quarters as well. At the same time, however, we also find weaknesses including unimpressive growth in net income, disappointing return on equity and poor profit margins.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • MAA's very impressive revenue growth greatly exceeded the industry average of 6.3%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues leaped by 82.8%. 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.
  • MID-AMERICA APT CMNTYS 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 year. However, the consensus estimate suggests that this trend should reverse in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, MID-AMERICA APT CMNTYS INC reported lower earnings of $1.02 versus $1.45 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.19 versus $1.02).
  • In its most recent trading session, MAA has closed at a price level that was not very different from its closing price of one year earlier. This is probably due to its weak earnings growth as well as other mixed factors. 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.
  • 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 on the basis of return on equity, MID-AMERICA APT CMNTYS INC underperformed against that of the industry average and is significantly less than that of the S&P 500.
  • The gross profit margin for MID-AMERICA APT CMNTYS INC is rather low; currently it is at 17.68%. It has decreased significantly from the same period last year. Along with this, the net profit margin of -3.86% is significantly below that of 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.

Plum Creek Timber

Dividend Yield: 4.10%

Plum Creek Timber (NYSE: PCL) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.10%.

Plum Creek Timber Company, Inc. is a publicly owned real estate investment trust (REIT). The trust owns and manages timberlands in the United States. Its products include lumber products, plywood, medium density fiberboard, and related by-products, such as wood chips. The company has a P/E ratio of 31.16.

The average volume for Plum Creek Timber has been 1,112,800 shares per day over the past 30 days. Plum Creek Timber has a market cap of $7.7 billion and is part of the materials & construction industry. Shares are down 6.9% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Plum Creek Timber 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 unimpressive growth in net income, disappointing return on equity and weak operating cash flow.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • PLUM CREEK TIMBER CO 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. 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, PLUM CREEK TIMBER CO INC increased its bottom line by earning $1.31 versus $1.25 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.40 versus $1.31).
  • PCL, with its decline in revenue, underperformed when compared the industry average of 6.3%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 6.5%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • 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 Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry and the overall market on the basis of return on equity, PLUM CREEK TIMBER CO INC has outperformed in comparison with the industry average, but has underperformed when compared to 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 Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 49.4% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $79.00 million to $40.00 million.

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

Frontier Communications Corp Class B

Dividend Yield: 8.00%

Frontier Communications Corp Class B (NASDAQ: FTR) shares currently have a dividend yield of 8.00%.

Frontier Communications Corporation, a communications company, provides regulated and unregulated voice, data, and video services to business, residential, and wholesale customers in the United States. The company has a P/E ratio of 45.36.

The average volume for Frontier Communications Corp Class B has been 10,371,800 shares per day over the past 30 days. Frontier Communications Corp Class B has a market cap of $5.0 billion and is part of the telecommunications industry. Shares are up 7.3% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Frontier Communications Corp Class B as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its good cash flow from operations, expanding profit margins and increase in stock price during the past year. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including disappointing return on equity and generally higher debt management risk.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Net operating cash flow has slightly increased to $420.29 million or 7.16% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, FRONTIER COMMUNICATIONS CORP has also modestly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of 5.17%.
  • 46.88% is the gross profit margin for FRONTIER COMMUNICATIONS CORP which we consider to be strong. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Despite the strong results of the gross profit margin, FTR's net profit margin of 5.74% significantly trails the industry average.
  • Compared to where it was a year ago today, the stock is now trading at a higher level, reflecting both the market's overall trend during that period and the fact that the company's earnings growth has been robust. We feel that the combination of its price rise over the last year and its current price-to-earnings ratio relative to its industry tend to reduce its upside potential.
  • The debt-to-equity ratio is very high at 2.01 and currently higher than the industry average, implying increased risk associated with the management of debt levels within the company. Even though the debt-to-equity ratio is weak, FTR's quick ratio is somewhat strong at 1.05, demonstrating the ability to handle short-term liquidity needs.
  • 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, FRONTIER COMMUNICATIONS CORP's return on equity significantly trails 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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