Buy These Top 3 Buy-Rated Dividend Stocks Today: UBSI, AEE, NNN

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."

United Bankshares

Dividend Yield: 4.20%

United Bankshares (NASDAQ: UBSI) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.20%.

United Bankshares, Inc., through its subsidiaries, provides commercial and retail banking services and products in the United States. The company has a P/E ratio of 17.43.

The average volume for United Bankshares has been 340,800 shares per day over the past 30 days. United Bankshares has a market cap of $2.1 billion and is part of the banking industry. Shares are down 3% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

TheStreet Ratings rates United Bankshares as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, increase in stock price during the past year, growth in earnings per share, increase in net income and expanding profit margins. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had somewhat disappointing return on equity.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 2.4%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 19.0%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.
  • The stock has risen over the past year as investors have generally rewarded the company for its earnings growth and other positive factors like the ones we have cited in this report. Looking ahead, unless broad bear market conditions prevail, we still see more upside potential for this stock, despite the fact that it has already risen over the past year.
  • UNITED BANKSHARES INC/WV has improved earnings per share by 11.6% 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. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, UNITED BANKSHARES INC/WV increased its bottom line by earning $1.70 versus $1.64 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.90 versus $1.70).
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has exceeded that of the S&P 500 and greatly outperformed compared to the Commercial Banks industry average. The net income increased by 39.6% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $21.58 million to $30.12 million.
  • The gross profit margin for UNITED BANKSHARES INC/WV is currently very high, coming in at 87.10%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Regardless of the strong results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of 26.72% 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.

Ameren

Dividend Yield: 4.10%

Ameren (NYSE: AEE) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.10%.

Ameren Corporation operates as a public utility holding company in the United States. The company is engaged in rate-regulated electric generation, transmission, and distribution; and rate-regulated natural gas transmission and distribution businesses. The company has a P/E ratio of 17.18.

The average volume for Ameren has been 1,986,300 shares per day over the past 30 days. Ameren has a market cap of $9.5 billion and is part of the utilities industry. Shares are up 8.3% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Ameren as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, increase in stock price during the past year, compelling growth in net income, reasonable valuation levels and growth in earnings per share. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • AEE's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 7.7%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 8.1%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • Compared to where it was a year ago today, the stock is now trading at a higher level, reflecting both the market's overall trend during that period and the fact that the company's earnings growth has been robust. 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.
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Multi-Utilities industry. The net income increased by 166.2% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from -$145.00 million to $96.00 million.
  • AMEREN 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, AMEREN CORP reported lower earnings of $2.10 versus $2.13 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.40 versus $2.10).

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

National Retail Properties

Dividend Yield: 4.50%

National Retail Properties (NYSE: NNN) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.50%.

National Retail Properties, Inc. is a publicly owned equity real estate investment trust. The firm acquires, owns, manages, and develops retail properties in the United States. The company has a P/E ratio of 32.37.

The average volume for National Retail Properties has been 1,103,100 shares per day over the past 30 days. National Retail Properties has a market cap of $4.4 billion and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are up 20.1% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

TheStreet Ratings rates National Retail Properties as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, expanding profit margins, growth in earnings per share, compelling growth in net income and good cash flow from operations. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had somewhat disappointing return on equity.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • NNN's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 10.3%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 12.2%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.
  • NATIONAL RETAIL PROPERTIES has improved earnings per share by 12.0% 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. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, NATIONAL RETAIL PROPERTIES increased its bottom line by earning $1.06 versus $1.03 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.11 versus $1.06).
  • 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 27.2% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $34.07 million to $43.33 million.
  • The gross profit margin for NATIONAL RETAIL PROPERTIES is rather high; currently it is at 59.84%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 41.61% significantly outperformed against the industry average.
  • Net operating cash flow has increased to $78.60 million or 14.21% when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite an increase in cash flow, NATIONAL RETAIL PROPERTIES's cash flow growth rate is still lower than the industry average growth rate of 29.62%.

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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