3 Hold-Rated Dividend Stocks: CTL, TGP, FE

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."

CenturyLink

Dividend Yield: 5.40%

CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) shares currently have a dividend yield of 5.40%.

CenturyLink, Inc. operates as an integrated telecommunications company in the United States. The company operates through four segments: Consumer, Business, Wholesale, and Data Hosting.

The average volume for CenturyLink has been 4,596,100 shares per day over the past 30 days. CenturyLink has a market cap of $23.0 billion and is part of the telecommunications industry. Shares are up 28% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Tuesday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates CenturyLink as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, increase in stock price during the past year and expanding profit margins. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including deteriorating net income, disappointing return on equity and weak operating cash flow.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 1.8%. 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.
  • 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. Despite the fact that it has already risen in the past year, there is currently no conclusive evidence that warrants the purchase or sale of this stock.
  • The gross profit margin for CENTURYLINK INC is rather high; currently it is at 56.93%. Regardless of CTL'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 4.25% trails the industry average.
  • 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 Diversified Telecommunication Services industry and the overall market, CENTURYLINK INC's return on equity significantly trails that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • Net operating cash flow has decreased to $1,129.00 million or 23.14% when compared to the same quarter last year. In conjunction, when comparing current results to the industry average, CENTURYLINK INC has marginally lower results.

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