What To Hold: 3 Hold-Rated Dividend Stocks AINV, PCL, VGR

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."

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 3,655,500 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 4.5% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

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 7.3%. 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.

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 32.58.

The average volume for Plum Creek Timber has been 1,014,400 shares per day over the past 30 days. Plum Creek Timber has a market cap of $7.5 billion and is part of the materials & construction industry. Shares are down 7.7% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

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, weak operating cash flow and a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself.

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 6.7%. 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, 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.
  • Net operating cash flow has decreased to $84.00 million or 27.58% 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.

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

Vector Group

Dividend Yield: 7.80%

Vector Group (NYSE: VGR) shares currently have a dividend yield of 7.80%.

Vector Group Ltd., through its subsidiaries, manufactures and sells cigarettes in the United States. The company operates through Tobacco and Real Estate segments. The company has a P/E ratio of 53.00.

The average volume for Vector Group has been 1,173,600 shares per day over the past 30 days. Vector Group has a market cap of $2.1 billion and is part of the tobacco industry. Shares are up 26.2% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Vector Group as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, expanding profit margins and good cash flow from operations. However, as a counter to these strengths, we find that the growth in the company's earnings per share has not been good.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 2.9%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 23.0%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • The gross profit margin for VECTOR GROUP LTD is rather high; currently it is at 55.89%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 34.95% significantly outperformed against the industry average.
  • VECTOR GROUP LTD 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. During the past fiscal year, VECTOR GROUP LTD increased its bottom line by earning $0.33 versus $0.29 in the prior year.
  • Powered by its strong earnings growth of 357.61% and other important driving factors, this stock has surged by 36.87% over the past year, outperforming the rise in the S&P 500 Index during the same period. Setting our sights on the months ahead, however, we feel that the stock's sharp appreciation over the last year has driven it to a price level which is now relatively expensive compared to the rest of its industry. The implication is that its reduced upside potential is not good enough to warrant further investment at this time.

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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