What To Hold: 3 Hold-Rated Dividend Stocks MFA, ATLS, APL

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."

MFA Financial

Dividend Yield: 9.90%

MFA Financial (NYSE: MFA) shares currently have a dividend yield of 9.90%.

MFA Financial, Inc., a real estate investment trust (REIT), invests in residential agency and non-agency mortgage-backed securities (MBS). The company has a P/E ratio of 10.49.

The average volume for MFA Financial has been 2,710,400 shares per day over the past 30 days. MFA Financial has a market cap of $3.0 billion and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are up 13.7% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

TheStreet Ratings rates MFA Financial as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its increase in net income, revenue growth and attractive valuation levels. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself, weak operating cash flow and feeble growth in the company's earnings per share.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry average, but is less than that of the S&P 500. The net income increased by 13.5% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $69.22 million to $78.56 million.
  • Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 8.3%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 0.4%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.
  • MFA has underperformed the S&P 500 Index, declining 13.73% 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 $70.96 million or 8.78% when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite a decrease in cash flow of 8.78%, MFA FINANCIAL INC is still significantly exceeding the industry average of -70.87%.

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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