3 Hold-Rated Dividend Stocks: EDUC, SMTP, NTLS

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."

Educational Development

Dividend Yield: 8.40%

Educational Development (NASDAQ: EDUC) shares currently have a dividend yield of 8.40%.

Educational Development Corporation operates as a trade publisher of the line of children's books in the United States. The company has a P/E ratio of 34.55.

The average volume for Educational Development has been 5,500 shares per day over the past 30 days. Educational Development has a market cap of $15.1 million and is part of the media industry. Shares are up 23.8% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Educational Development 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 company's return on equity has been disappointing.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 12.2%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 8.1%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.
  • The gross profit margin for EDUCATIONAL DEVELOPMENT CORP is rather high; currently it is at 61.24%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 6.44% is above that of the industry average.
  • EDUC's debt-to-equity ratio is very low at 0.04 and is currently below that of the industry average, implying that there has been very successful management of debt levels. Although the company had a strong debt-to-equity ratio, its quick ratio of 0.99 is somewhat weak and could be cause for future problems.
  • The stock price has risen over the past year, but, despite its earnings growth and some other positive factors, it has underperformed the S&P 500 so far. We feel that the combination of its price rise over the last year and its current price-to-earnings ratio relative to its industry tend to reduce its upside potential.
  • 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 Distributors industry and the overall market, EDUCATIONAL DEVELOPMENT CORP's return on equity significantly trails that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.

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