What To Hold: 3 Hold-Rated Dividend Stocks MAA, MFA, OAK

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."

Mid-America Apartment Communities

Dividend Yield: 4.10%

Mid-America Apartment Communities (NYSE: MAA) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.10%.

Mid-America Apartment Communities, Inc. is an independent real estate investment trust. The firm invests in the real estate markets of the United States. It is engaged in acquisition, redevelopment, new development, property management, and disposition of multifamily apartment communities. The company has a P/E ratio of 198.89.

The average volume for Mid-America Apartment Communities has been 430,700 shares per day over the past 30 days. Mid-America Apartment Communities has a market cap of $5.4 billion and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are up 18.2% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Mid-America Apartment Communities as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, reasonable valuation levels and good cash flow from operations. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including feeble growth in the company's earnings per share, unimpressive growth in net income and disappointing return on equity.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • MAA's very impressive revenue growth greatly exceeded the industry average of 10.1%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues leaped by 90.3%. 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.
  • 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 Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry and the overall market on the basis of return on equity, MID-AMERICA APT CMNTYS INC underperformed against that of the industry average and is significantly less than that of the S&P 500.
  • The gross profit margin for MID-AMERICA APT CMNTYS INC is rather low; currently it is at 18.42%. It has decreased significantly from the same period last year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 6.09% significantly 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.

MFA Financial

Dividend Yield: 9.70%

MFA Financial (NYSE: MFA) shares currently have a dividend yield of 9.70%.

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 10.68.

The average volume for MFA Financial has been 2,510,800 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 16% 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 revenue growth, attractive valuation levels and expanding profit margins. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including disappointing return on equity, weak operating cash flow and feeble growth in the company's earnings per share.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 10.1%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 0.3%. 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.
  • The gross profit margin for MFA FINANCIAL INC is currently very high, coming in at 91.61%. Regardless of MFA's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, MFA's net profit margin of 61.07% significantly outperformed against the industry.
  • 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. When compared to other companies in the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry and the overall market, MFA FINANCIAL INC's return on equity is below that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • Net operating cash flow has decreased to $48.27 million or 32.17% 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.

Oaktree Capital Group

Dividend Yield: 7.80%

Oaktree Capital Group (NYSE: OAK) shares currently have a dividend yield of 7.80%.

Oaktree Capital Group, LLC operates as a global investment management firm that focuses on alternative markets. The company has a P/E ratio of 8.79.

The average volume for Oaktree Capital Group has been 280,800 shares per day over the past 30 days. Oaktree Capital Group has a market cap of $2.2 billion and is part of the financial services industry. Shares are down 14.7% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Oaktree Capital Group as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its expanding profit margins and notable return on equity. However, as a counter to these strengths, 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:
  • 37.09% is the gross profit margin for OAKTREE CAPITAL GROUP LLC which we consider to be strong. Regardless of OAK'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 12.70% trails the industry average.
  • OAK, with its decline in revenue, slightly underperformed the industry average of 5.2%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues fell by 11.6%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • 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 Capital Markets industry and the overall market, OAKTREE CAPITAL GROUP LLC's return on equity significantly exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly decreased to -$984.27 million or 143.60% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, when comparing to the industry average, the firm's growth rate is much lower.
  • The company, on the basis of change in net income from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly underperformed against the S&P 500 and did not exceed that of the Capital Markets industry. The net income has decreased by 10.0% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, dropping from $57.57 million to $51.79 million.

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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