What To Hold: 3 Hold-Rated Dividend Stocks KFN, AINV, NRF

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 which could 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."

KKR Financial Holdings

Dividend Yield: 7.70%

KKR Financial Holdings (NYSE: KFN) shares currently have a dividend yield of 7.70%.

KKR Financial Holdings LLC, together with its subsidiaries, operates as a specialty finance company with expertise in a range of asset classes in the United States. The company operates through Credit, Natural Resources, and Other segments. The company has a P/E ratio of 9.04.

The average volume for KKR Financial Holdings has been 983,800 shares per day over the past 30 days. KKR Financial Holdings has a market cap of $2.3 billion and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are down 8.7% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

TheStreet Ratings rates KKR Financial Holdings as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, attractive valuation levels and expanding profit margins. 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 generally higher debt management risk.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 5.5%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 2.2%. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Financial Services industry. The net income has decreased by 10.6% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, dropping from $77.01 million to $68.88 million.
  • The debt-to-equity ratio is very high at 2.38 and currently higher than the industry average, implying increased risk associated with the management of debt levels within the company.

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

Apollo Investment

Dividend Yield: 9.90%

Apollo Investment (NASDAQ: AINV) shares currently have a dividend yield of 9.90%.

Apollo Investment Corporation is business development company and operates as a closed-end management investment company. The company invests in middle market companies. It provides direct equity capital, mezzanine and senior secured loans, and subordinated debt and loans. The company has a P/E ratio of 7.08.

The average volume for Apollo Investment has been 3,564,700 shares per day over the past 30 days. Apollo Investment has a market cap of $1.8 billion and is part of the financial services industry. Shares are down 4.9% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Apollo Investment as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, impressive record of earnings per share growth and compelling growth in net income. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including weak operating cash flow and a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 7.7%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 13.6%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • APOLLO INVESTMENT CORP reported significant earnings per share improvement in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past year. We feel that this trend should continue. This trend suggests that the performance of the business is improving. During the past fiscal year, APOLLO INVESTMENT CORP turned its bottom line around by earning $0.49 versus -$0.45 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($0.90 versus $0.49).
  • The return on equity has improved slightly when compared to the same quarter one year prior. This can be construed as a modest strength in the organization. Compared to other companies in the Capital Markets industry and the overall market on the basis of return on equity, APOLLO INVESTMENT CORP has outperformed in comparison with the industry average, but has underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500.
  • In its most recent trading session, AINV 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.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly decreased to -$122.64 million or 450.50% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, when comparing to the industry average, the firm's growth rate is much lower.

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

Northstar Realty Finance Corporation

Dividend Yield: 6.70%

Northstar Realty Finance Corporation (NYSE: NRF) shares currently have a dividend yield of 6.70%.

NorthStar Realty Finance Corp., a real estate investment trust (REIT), operates as a commercial real estate (CRE) investment and asset management company in the United States.

The average volume for Northstar Realty Finance Corporation has been 8,208,100 shares per day over the past 30 days. Northstar Realty Finance Corporation has a market cap of $4.9 billion and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are up 9% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Northstar Realty Finance Corporation as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its solid stock price performance, impressive record of earnings per share growth and compelling growth in net income. However, as a counter to these strengths, we find that the company's return on equity has been disappointing.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Powered by its strong earnings growth of 95.00% and other important driving factors, this stock has surged by 52.98% over the past year, outperforming the rise in the S&P 500 Index during the same period. Regarding the stock's future course, our hold rating indicates that we do not recommend additional investment in this stock despite its gains in the past year.
  • NORTHSTAR REALTY FINANCE CP reported significant earnings per share improvement in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. We feel that this trend should continue. This trend suggests that the performance of the business is improving. During the past fiscal year, NORTHSTAR REALTY FINANCE CP continued to lose money by earning -$0.55 versus -$2.26 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.21 versus -$0.55).
  • The gross profit margin for NORTHSTAR REALTY FINANCE CP is rather high; currently it is at 61.26%. Regardless of NRF's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, NRF's net profit margin of 2.56% is significantly lower than the industry average.
  • The company's current return on equity greatly increased when compared to its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a signal of significant strength within the corporation. Compared to other companies in the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry and the overall market, NORTHSTAR REALTY FINANCE CP'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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