What To Hold: 3 Hold-Rated Dividend Stocks ESV, FE, 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: 5.80%

Ensco (NYSE: ESV) shares currently have a dividend yield of 5.80%.

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 2,794,700 shares per day over the past 30 days. Ensco has a market cap of $12.0 billion and is part of the energy industry. Shares are down 9.7% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Ensco as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, compelling growth in net income and expanding profit margins. 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 9.2%. 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.
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Energy Equipment & Services industry. The net income increased by 64.6% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $219.50 million to $361.40 million.
  • 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 7.16% 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 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.

FirstEnergy

Dividend Yield: 4.20%

FirstEnergy (NYSE: FE) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.20%.

FirstEnergy Corp., a diversified energy company, generates, transmits, and distributes electricity in the United States. The company operates through Regulated Distribution, Regulated Transmission, and Competitive Energy Services segments. The company has a P/E ratio of 35.48.

The average volume for FirstEnergy has been 3,399,300 shares per day over the past 30 days. FirstEnergy has a market cap of $14.3 billion and is part of the utilities industry. Shares are up 5.1% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

TheStreet Ratings rates FirstEnergy as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, increase in net income and growth in earnings per share. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself, generally higher debt management risk and disappointing return on equity.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • FE's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 3.4%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 4.7%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Electric Utilities industry. The net income increased by 195.9% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from -$148.00 million to $142.00 million.
  • FIRSTENERGY CORP reported significant earnings per share improvement 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, FIRSTENERGY CORP reported lower earnings of $0.90 versus $1.80 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.61 versus $0.90).
  • Currently the debt-to-equity ratio of 1.63 is quite high overall and when compared to the industry average, suggesting that the current management of debt levels should be re-evaluated. Along with this, the company manages to maintain a quick ratio of 0.19, which clearly demonstrates the inability to cover short-term cash 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 Electric Utilities industry and the overall market on the basis of return on equity, FIRSTENERGY CORP underperformed against that of the industry average and is significantly less than that of 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.

Two Harbors Investment

Dividend Yield: 10.20%

Two Harbors Investment (NYSE: TWO) shares currently have a dividend yield of 10.20%.

Two Harbors Investment Corp. operates as a real estate investment trust (REIT) that focuses on investing in, financing, and managing residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS), residential mortgage loans, mortgage servicing rights, and other financial assets. The company has a P/E ratio of 6.45.

The average volume for Two Harbors Investment has been 3,954,100 shares per day over the past 30 days. Two Harbors Investment has a market cap of $3.7 billion and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are up 9.8% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Two Harbors Investment as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, notable return on equity and attractive valuation levels. However, as a counter to these strengths, we find that the stock has had a generally disappointing performance in the past year.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 8.7%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 27.2%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.
  • Current return on equity exceeded its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a clear sign of strength within the company. Compared to other companies in the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry and the overall market, TWO HARBORS INVESTMENT CORP's return on equity exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • The gross profit margin for TWO HARBORS INVESTMENT CORP is currently very high, coming in at 90.63%. Regardless of TWO's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, TWO's net profit margin of 86.23% significantly outperformed against the industry.
  • TWO HARBORS INVESTMENT CORP has improved earnings per share by 8.2% 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. However, we anticipate underperformance relative to this pattern in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, TWO HARBORS INVESTMENT CORP increased its bottom line by earning $1.66 versus $1.11 in the prior year. For the next year, the market is expecting a contraction of 38.5% in earnings ($1.02 versus $1.66).
  • TWO has underperformed the S&P 500 Index, declining 13.19% 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.

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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