What To Hold: 3 Hold-Rated Dividend Stocks MFA, CY, VGR

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: 9.80%

MFA Financial (NYSE: MFA) shares currently have a dividend yield of 9.80%.

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 10.62.

The average volume for MFA Financial has been 2,852,700 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 15.7% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

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 10.3%. 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.

Cypress Semiconductor

Dividend Yield: 4.20%

Cypress Semiconductor (NASDAQ: CY) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.20%.

Cypress Semiconductor Corporation provides mixed-signal programmable solutions, specialized semiconductor memories, and integrated semiconductor solutions.

The average volume for Cypress Semiconductor has been 2,326,300 shares per day over the past 30 days. Cypress Semiconductor has a market cap of $1.7 billion and is part of the electronics industry. Shares are unchanged year-to-date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Cypress Semiconductor as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its compelling growth in net income, good cash flow from operations and expanding profit margins. However, as a counter to these strengths, we find that the company has favored debt over equity in the management of its balance sheet.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Semiconductors & Semiconductor Equipment industry. The net income increased by 72.1% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from -$28.48 million to -$7.93 million.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 204.79% to $25.19 million when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, CYPRESS SEMICONDUCTOR CORP has also vastly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of 2.94%.
  • CYPRESS SEMICONDUCTOR 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, CYPRESS SEMICONDUCTOR CORP reported poor results of -$0.33 versus -$0.16 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($0.53 versus -$0.33).
  • Current return on equity exceeded its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a clear sign of strength within the company. Compared to other companies in the Semiconductors & Semiconductor Equipment industry and the overall market, CYPRESS SEMICONDUCTOR CORP's return on equity significantly trails that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • The debt-to-equity ratio of 1.36 is relatively high when compared with the industry average, suggesting a need for better debt level management. To add to this, CY has a quick ratio of 0.69, this demonstrates the lack of ability of the company to cover short-term liquidity needs.

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

Vector Group

Dividend Yield: 7.80%

Vector Group (NYSE: VGR) shares currently have a dividend yield of 7.80%.

Vector Group Ltd., through its subsidiaries, primarily manufactures and sells cigarettes in the United States. The company operates through Tobacco and Real Estate segments. The company has a P/E ratio of 44.52.

The average volume for Vector Group has been 936,700 shares per day over the past 30 days. Vector Group has a market cap of $2.0 billion and is part of the tobacco industry. Shares are up 25.1% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Vector Group as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, growth in earnings per share and compelling growth in net income. However, as a counter to these strengths, we find that we feel that the company's cash flow from its operations has been weak overall.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • VGR's very impressive revenue growth greatly exceeded the industry average of 3.0%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues leaped by 78.4%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.
  • VECTOR GROUP LTD 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 year. We feel that this trend should continue. This trend suggests that the performance of the business is improving. During the past fiscal year, VECTOR GROUP LTD increased its bottom line by earning $0.33 versus $0.29 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($0.63 versus $0.33).
  • Powered by its strong earnings growth of 257.89% and other important driving factors, this stock has surged by 42.40% over the past year, outperforming the rise in the S&P 500 Index during the same period. Setting our sights on the months ahead, however, we feel that the stock's sharp appreciation over the last year has driven it to a price level which is now relatively expensive compared to the rest of its industry. The implication is that its reduced upside potential is not good enough to warrant further investment at this time.
  • 47.09% is the gross profit margin for VECTOR GROUP LTD which we consider to be strong. Regardless of VGR's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, VGR's net profit margin of 1.05% is significantly lower than the industry average.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly decreased to -$39.08 million or 294.11% 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.

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