What To Hold: 3 Hold-Rated Dividend Stocks ESV, CBL, PM

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."

Ensco

Dividend Yield: 6.10%

Ensco (NYSE: ESV) shares currently have a dividend yield of 6.10%.

Ensco plc provides offshore contract drilling services to the oil and gas industry worldwide. The company operates through three segments: Floaters, Jackups, and Other. The company has a P/E ratio of 25.28.

The average volume for Ensco has been 2,741,800 shares per day over the past 30 days. Ensco has a market cap of $11.4 billion and is part of the energy industry. Shares are down 14.3% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Monday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates Ensco as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, good cash flow from operations and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself, deteriorating net income and disappointing return on equity.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • ESV's revenue growth trails the industry average of 20.7%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 6.4%. 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.
  • Net operating cash flow has increased to $504.80 million or 14.18% when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite an increase in cash flow, ENSCO PLC's cash flow growth rate is still lower than the industry average growth rate of 27.43%.
  • The gross profit margin for ENSCO PLC is rather high; currently it is at 52.12%. Regardless of ESV's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, ESV's net profit margin of -97.48% significantly underperformed when compared to 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 Energy Equipment & Services industry and the overall market, ENSCO PLC's return on equity significantly trails that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • The share price of ENSCO PLC has not done very well: it is down 15.92% 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. Looking ahead, other than the push or pull of the broad market, we do not see anything in the company's numbers that may help reverse the decline experienced over the past 12 months. Despite the past decline, the stock is still selling for more than most others in its industry.

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CBL & Associates Properties

Dividend Yield: 5.20%

CBL & Associates Properties (NYSE: CBL) shares currently have a dividend yield of 5.20%.

CBL & Associates Properties, Inc. is a public real estate investment trust. It engages in acquisition, development, and management of properties. The fund invests in the real estate markets of United States. Its portfolio consists of enclosed malls and open-air centers. The company has a P/E ratio of 32.08.

The average volume for CBL & Associates Properties has been 1,120,200 shares per day over the past 30 days. CBL & Associates Properties has a market cap of $3.2 billion and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are up 6.2% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Monday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates CBL & Associates Properties as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its compelling growth in net income, revenue growth and reasonable valuation levels. However, as a counter to these strengths, we find that the stock has had a generally disappointing performance in the past year.

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 Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry. The net income increased by 223.8% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $11.72 million to $37.96 million.
  • Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 10.1%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 1.1%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • CBL & ASSOCIATES PPTYS INC 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, CBL & ASSOCIATES PPTYS INC reported lower earnings of $0.27 versus $0.59 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($0.80 versus $0.27).
  • The return on equity has improved slightly when compared to the same quarter one year prior. This can be construed as a modest strength in the organization. When compared to other companies in the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry and the overall market, CBL & ASSOCIATES PPTYS INC's return on equity is below that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • CBL has underperformed the S&P 500 Index, declining 10.56% from its price level of one year ago. The fact that the stock is now selling for less than others in its industry in relation to its current earnings is not reason enough to justify a buy rating at this time.

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Philip Morris International

Dividend Yield: 4.40%

Philip Morris International (NYSE: PM) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.40%.

Philip Morris International Inc., through its subsidiaries, manufactures and sells cigarettes and other tobacco products. The company's portfolio of brands include Marlboro, Merit, Parliament, Virginia Slims, L&M, Chesterfield, Bond Street, Lark, Muratti, Next, Philip Morris, and Red & White. The company has a P/E ratio of 16.80.

The average volume for Philip Morris International has been 4,429,300 shares per day over the past 30 days. Philip Morris International has a market cap of $132.0 billion and is part of the tobacco industry. Shares are down 2.5% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Monday.

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

TheStreet Ratings rates Philip Morris International as a hold. Among the primary strengths of the company is its expanding profit margins over time. At the same time, however, we also find weaknesses including deteriorating net income, weak operating cash flow and a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The gross profit margin for PHILIP MORRIS INTERNATIONAL is rather high; currently it is at 67.91%. Regardless of PM'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 23.73% trails the industry average.
  • PM, with its decline in revenue, slightly underperformed the industry average of 0.5%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 1.5%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • PHILIP MORRIS INTERNATIONAL's earnings per share declined by 10.0% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. We feel it is likely to report a decline in earnings in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, PHILIP MORRIS INTERNATIONAL increased its bottom line by earning $5.26 versus $5.18 in the prior year. For the next year, the market is expecting a contraction of 1.5% in earnings ($5.18 versus $5.26).
  • Net operating cash flow has decreased to $2,705.00 million or 13.77% when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite a decrease in cash flow PHILIP MORRIS INTERNATIONAL is still fairing well by exceeding its industry average cash flow growth rate of -30.64%.
  • The company, on the basis of change in net income from the same quarter one year ago, has underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500 and the Tobacco industry average. The net income has decreased by 12.9% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, dropping from $2,124.00 million to $1,851.00 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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