Buy These Top 3 Buy-Rated Dividend Stocks Today: WGL, HPT, EPB

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."

WGL Holdings

Dividend Yield: 4.40%

WGL Holdings (NYSE: WGL) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.40%.

WGL Holdings, Inc., through its subsidiaries, sells and delivers natural gas, and provides energy-related products and services. The company operates in four segments: Regulated Utility, Retail Energy-Marketing, Commercial Energy Systems, and Midstream Energy Services. The company has a P/E ratio of 115.46.

The average volume for WGL Holdings has been 274,400 shares per day over the past 30 days. WGL Holdings has a market cap of $2.1 billion and is part of the utilities industry. Shares are down 0.4% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

TheStreet Ratings rates WGL Holdings as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 35.9%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 31.7%. 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 debt-to-equity ratio is somewhat low, currently at 0.70, and is less than that of the industry average, implying that there has been a relatively successful effort in the management of debt levels. Despite the fact that WGL's debt-to-equity ratio is low, the quick ratio, which is currently 0.57, displays a potential problem in covering short-term cash needs.
  • WGL HOLDINGS INC's earnings per share declined by 31.8% 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, WGL HOLDINGS INC reported lower earnings of $1.55 versus $2.71 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.45 versus $1.55).
  • The company, on the basis of change in net income 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 has significantly decreased by 31.5% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $89.84 million to $61.54 million.
  • The share price of WGL HOLDINGS INC has not done very well: it is down 10.60% and has underperformed the S&P 500, in part reflecting the company's sharply declining earnings per share when compared to the year-earlier quarter. Despite the stock's decline during the last year, it is still somewhat more expensive (in proportion to its earnings over the last year) than most other stocks in its industry. We feel, however, that other strengths this company displays offset this slight negative.

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

Hospitality Properties

Dividend Yield: 6.50%

Hospitality Properties (NYSE: HPT) shares currently have a dividend yield of 6.50%.

Hospitality Properties Trust, a real estate investment trust (REIT), engages in buying, owning, and leasing hotels. The company has a P/E ratio of 37.72.

The average volume for Hospitality Properties has been 725,200 shares per day over the past 30 days. Hospitality Properties has a market cap of $4.5 billion and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are up 9.7% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Hospitality Properties as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, reasonable valuation levels, good cash flow from operations, increase in net income and increase in stock price during the past year. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows low profit margins.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • HPT's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 10.1%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 11.2%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving 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 36.5% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $27.51 million to $37.55 million.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 74.92% to $79.07 million when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, HOSPITALITY PROPERTIES TRUST has also vastly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of -37.20%.
  • 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.

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

El Paso Pipeline Partners

Dividend Yield: 7.20%

El Paso Pipeline Partners (NYSE: EPB) shares currently have a dividend yield of 7.20%.

El Paso Pipeline Partners, L.P. owns and operates interstate natural gas transportation and terminaling facilities in the United States. The company has a P/E ratio of 20.70.

The average volume for El Paso Pipeline Partners has been 759,900 shares per day over the past 30 days. El Paso Pipeline Partners has a market cap of $7.9 billion and is part of the energy industry. Shares are down 0.2% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

TheStreet Ratings rates El Paso Pipeline Partners as a buy. Among the primary strengths of the company is its expanding profit margins over time. 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 gross profit margin for EL PASO PIPELINE PARTNERS LP is currently very high, coming in at 76.77%. Regardless of EPB's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, EPB's net profit margin of 37.11% significantly outperformed against the industry.
  • Regardless of the drop in revenue, the company managed to outperform against the industry average of 3.5%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 1.7%. The declining revenue appears to have seeped down to the company's bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • The change in net income from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry average, but is less than that of the S&P 500. The net income has decreased by 3.7% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, dropping from $136.00 million to $131.00 million.
  • Return on equity has greatly decreased when compared to its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a signal of major weakness within the corporation. Compared to other companies in the Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry and the overall market on the basis of return on equity, EL PASO PIPELINE PARTNERS LP has underperformed in comparison with the industry average, but has exceeded that of the S&P 500.
  • Currently the debt-to-equity ratio of 1.57 is quite high overall and when compared to the industry average, suggesting that the current management of debt levels should be re-evaluated.

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

Other helpful dividend tools from TheStreet:

null

More from Markets

Italian Bonds Slump as Government Mulls Anti-Euro Finance Minister

Italian Bonds Slump as Government Mulls Anti-Euro Finance Minister

Global Stocks Hold Gains as North Korea Response on Talks Soothes Nerves

Global Stocks Hold Gains as North Korea Response on Talks Soothes Nerves

Canopy Growth Lets Down Eager Pot Investors; PayPal Keeps Dominating -- ICYMI

Canopy Growth Lets Down Eager Pot Investors; PayPal Keeps Dominating -- ICYMI

Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Tumble After Trump Calls Off North Korea Summit

Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Tumble After Trump Calls Off North Korea Summit

Inside Carnival's Mind Blowing New Horizon Cruise Ship (Video)

Inside Carnival's Mind Blowing New Horizon Cruise Ship (Video)