3 Hold-Rated Dividend Stocks: ESV, HCN, TWO

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."

Ensco

Dividend Yield: 5.90%

Ensco (NYSE: ESV) shares currently have a dividend yield of 5.90%.

Ensco plc provides offshore contract drilling services to the oil and gas industry worldwide. The company operates through three segments: Floaters, Jackups, and Other. The company has a P/E ratio of 8.04.

The average volume for Ensco has been 2,850,000 shares per day over the past 30 days. Ensco has a market cap of $11.9 billion and is part of the energy industry. Shares are down 12.6% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Ensco 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:
  • ESV's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 8.2%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 15.7%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • ENSCO PLC 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, ENSCO PLC increased its bottom line by earning $6.09 versus $5.24 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($6.15 versus $6.09).
  • The gross profit margin for ENSCO PLC is rather high; currently it is at 50.96%. Regardless of ESV's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, ESV's net profit margin of 28.78% significantly outperformed against the industry.
  • ESV has underperformed the S&P 500 Index, declining 16.20% 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.
  • Net operating cash flow has declined marginally to $547.90 million or 8.60% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, when comparing the cash generation rate to the industry average, the firm's growth is significantly lower.

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