What To Hold: 3 Hold-Rated Dividend Stocks CTL, RIG, CNP

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: 6.80%

CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) shares currently have a dividend yield of 6.80%.

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

The average volume for CenturyLink has been 5,932,100 shares per day over the past 30 days. CenturyLink has a market cap of $18.4 billion and is part of the telecommunications industry. Shares are up 0% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

TheStreet Ratings rates CenturyLink as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its growth in earnings per share, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and expanding profit margins. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including disappointing return on equity and a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • CENTURYLINK INC has improved earnings per share by 10.8% 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, CENTURYLINK INC swung to a loss, reporting -$0.43 versus $1.24 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.58 versus -$0.43).
  • CTL, with its decline in revenue, slightly underperformed the industry average of 0.3%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 0.9%. The declining revenue has not hurt the company's bottom line, with increasing earnings per share.
  • CTL has underperformed the S&P 500 Index, declining 9.94% from its price level of one year ago. 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 Diversified Telecommunication Services industry and the overall market, CENTURYLINK INC'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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