Best Of The Buy-Rated Dividend Stocks: Top 3 Companies: MMLP, WSR, FGP

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."

Martin Midstream Partners

Dividend Yield: 7.70%

Martin Midstream Partners (NASDAQ: MMLP) shares currently have a dividend yield of 7.70%.

Martin Midstream Partners L.P. collects, transports, stores, and markets petroleum products and by-products in the United States Gulf Coast region.

The average volume for Martin Midstream Partners has been 128,700 shares per day over the past 30 days. Martin Midstream Partners has a market cap of $1.1 billion and is part of the energy industry. Shares are down 4.5% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Tuesday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Martin Midstream Partners as a buy. Among the primary strengths of the company is its revenue growth. 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 revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 3.1%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 14.6%. 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.
  • MARTIN MIDSTREAM PARTNERS LP's earnings per share declined by 29.5% 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 year. However, we anticipate this trend reversing over the coming year. During the past fiscal year, MARTIN MIDSTREAM PARTNERS LP swung to a loss, reporting -$0.49 versus $1.33 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.60 versus -$0.49).
  • In its most recent trading session, MMLP has closed at a price level that was not very different from its closing price of one year earlier. This is probably due to its weak earnings growth as well as other mixed factors. Turning toward the future, the fact that the stock has come down in price over the past year should not necessarily be interpreted as a negative; it is one of the factors that makes this stock an attractive investment.
  • 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 Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 29.1% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $16.64 million to $11.80 million.
  • The debt-to-equity ratio is very high at 2.51 and currently higher than the industry average, implying increased risk associated with the management of debt levels within the company. Along with the unfavorable debt-to-equity ratio, MMLP maintains a poor quick ratio of 0.94, which illustrates the inability to avoid short-term cash problems.

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

Whitestone REIT

Dividend Yield: 8.00%

Whitestone REIT (NYSE: WSR) shares currently have a dividend yield of 8.00%.

WhiteStone REIT is a Maryland REIT engaged in owning and operating commercial properties in culturally diverse markets in major metropolitan areas. The company has a P/E ratio of 57.00.

The average volume for Whitestone REIT has been 91,600 shares per day over the past 30 days. Whitestone REIT has a market cap of $319.4 million and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are up 6.8% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Tuesday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Whitestone REIT as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income, reasonable valuation levels and good cash flow from operations. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 10.3%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 28.2%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.
  • WHITESTONE REIT reported significant earnings per share improvement 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, WHITESTONE REIT increased its bottom line by earning $0.21 versus $0.04 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($0.23 versus $0.21).
  • 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 149.9% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $0.95 million to $2.37 million.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 52.07% to $5.98 million when compared to the same quarter last year. The firm also exceeded the industry average cash flow growth rate of 30.47%.

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

Ferrellgas Partners

Dividend Yield: 7.10%

Ferrellgas Partners (NYSE: FGP) shares currently have a dividend yield of 7.10%.

Ferrellgas Partners, L.P. distributes and sells propane and related equipment and supplies primarily in the United States. It transports propane to propane distribution locations, tanks on customers' premises, or to portable propane tanks delivered to retailers. The company has a P/E ratio of 43.46.

The average volume for Ferrellgas Partners has been 192,400 shares per day over the past 30 days. Ferrellgas Partners has a market cap of $2.3 billion and is part of the energy industry. Shares are up 21% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Tuesday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Ferrellgas Partners as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, good cash flow from operations, growth in earnings per share, solid stock price performance and increase in net income. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows low profit margins.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • FGP's revenue growth trails the industry average of 35.8%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 19.8%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.
  • Net operating cash flow has increased to $174.04 million or 40.00% when compared to the same quarter last year. The firm also exceeded the industry average cash flow growth rate of 15.81%.
  • FERRELLGAS PARTNERS -LP's earnings per share improvement from the most recent quarter was slightly positive. 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, FERRELLGAS PARTNERS -LP turned its bottom line around by earning $0.68 versus -$0.14 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.03 versus $0.68).
  • 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, the stock's 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 the other strengths this company displays justify these higher price levels.
  • The company, on the basis of net income growth from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500 and the Gas Utilities industry. The net income increased by 1.6% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $44.68 million to $45.39 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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