What To Buy: Top 3 Buy-Rated Dividend Stocks: LO, WPC, PPL

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 "Buy."

Lorillard

Dividend Yield: 4.20%

Lorillard (NYSE: LO) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.20%.

Lorillard, Inc., through its subsidiaries, manufactures and sells cigarettes in the United States. The company operates through two segments, Cigarettes and Electronic Cigarettes. The company has a P/E ratio of 19.42.

The average volume for Lorillard has been 3,704,700 shares per day over the past 30 days. Lorillard has a market cap of $21.3 billion and is part of the tobacco industry. Shares are up 18.9% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Lorillard as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, solid stock price performance, good cash flow from operations and expanding profit margins. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 3.2%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 2.2%. This growth in revenue does not appear to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, displayed by a decline in earnings per share.
  • Compared to its closing price of one year ago, LO's share price has jumped by 36.49%, exceeding the performance of the broader market during that same time frame. Looking ahead, the stock's sharp rise over the last year has already helped drive it to a level which is relatively expensive compared to the rest of its industry. We feel, however, that other strengths this company displays justify these higher price levels.
  • LORILLARD INC's earnings per share declined by 13.9% 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, LORILLARD INC increased its bottom line by earning $3.14 versus $2.81 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($3.44 versus $3.14).
  • Net operating cash flow has remained constant at $703.00 million with no significant change when compared to the same quarter last year. Along with maintaining stable cash flow from operations, the firm exceeded the industry average cash flow growth rate of -31.77%.
  • The gross profit margin for LORILLARD INC is rather high; currently it is at 55.62%. Regardless of LO's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of 23.62% trails the industry average.

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

W P Carey

Dividend Yield: 5.70%

W P Carey (NYSE: WPC) shares currently have a dividend yield of 5.70%.

W. P. Carey Inc. is an independent equity real estate investment trust. The firm also provides long-term sale-leaseback and build-to-suit financing for companies. It invests in the real estate markets across the globe. The company has a P/E ratio of 29.34.

The average volume for W P Carey has been 605,800 shares per day over the past 30 days. W P Carey has a market cap of $6.3 billion and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are up 3.2% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

TheStreet Ratings rates W P Carey as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, compelling growth in net income, expanding profit margins, impressive record of earnings per share growth and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • WPC's very impressive revenue growth greatly exceeded the industry average of 10.1%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues leaped by 97.3%. 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 Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry. The net income increased by 696.1% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $14.18 million to $112.89 million.
  • The gross profit margin for W P CAREY INC is currently very high, coming in at 74.09%. Despite the high profit margin, it has decreased significantly from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, WPC's net profit margin of 53.97% significantly outperformed against the industry.
  • W P CAREY INC 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, W P CAREY INC reported lower earnings of $1.20 versus $2.03 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.51 versus $1.20).
  • 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. When compared to other companies in the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry and the overall market, W P CAREY INC's return on equity is below that of both the industry average and 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.

PPL

Dividend Yield: 4.30%

PPL (NYSE: PPL) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.30%.

PPL Corporation, an energy and utility holding company, generates, transmits, distributes, and sells electricity to wholesale and retail customers in the Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, and the United Kingdom. The company operates in four segments: Kentucky Regulated, U.K. The company has a P/E ratio of 21.65.

The average volume for PPL has been 5,137,900 shares per day over the past 30 days. PPL has a market cap of $21.9 billion and is part of the utilities industry. Shares are up 15.6% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

TheStreet Ratings rates PPL as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its expanding profit margins, good cash flow from operations and increase in stock price during the past year. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The gross profit margin for PPL CORP is currently very high, coming in at 85.64%. It has increased significantly from the same period last year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 24.53% significantly outperformed against the industry average.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 281.55% to $931.00 million when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, PPL CORP has also vastly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of 18.38%.
  • Compared to where it was 12 months ago, the stock is up, but it has so far lagged the appreciation in the S&P 500. Turning our attention to the future direction of the stock, it goes without saying that even the best stocks can fall in an overall down market. However, in any other environment, this stock still has good upside potential despite the fact that it has already risen in the past year.
  • PPL CORP's earnings per share declined by 24.6% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has suffered a declining pattern of earnings per share over the past two years. However, we anticipate this trend to reverse over the coming year. During the past fiscal year, PPL CORP reported lower earnings of $1.74 versus $2.61 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.23 versus $1.74).
  • The revenue fell significantly faster than the industry average of 9.4%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues fell by 47.6%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.

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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