What To Buy: Top 3 Buy-Rated Dividend Stocks: TAL, MO, GEO

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."

TAL International Group

Dividend Yield: 6.30%

TAL International Group (NYSE: TAL) shares currently have a dividend yield of 6.30%.

TAL International Group, Inc., together with its subsidiaries, leases intermodal transportation equipment and provides maritime container management services worldwide. The company operates in two segments, Equipment Leasing and Equipment Trading. The company has a P/E ratio of 12.18.

The average volume for TAL International Group has been 280,500 shares per day over the past 30 days. TAL International Group has a market cap of $1.6 billion and is part of the diversified services industry. Shares are down 19.4% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Tuesday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates TAL International Group as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its expanding profit margins, good cash flow from operations and increase in stock price during the past year. 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 gross profit margin for TAL INTERNATIONAL GROUP INC is currently very high, coming in at 84.81%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 17.95% significantly outperformed against the industry average.
  • Net operating cash flow has increased to $103.78 million or 36.97% when compared to the same quarter last year. The firm also exceeded the industry average cash flow growth rate of 4.26%.
  • 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.
  • TAL, with its decline in revenue, slightly underperformed the industry average of 0.6%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 4.9%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • TAL INTERNATIONAL GROUP INC's earnings per share declined by 22.3% 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, TAL INTERNATIONAL GROUP INC increased its bottom line by earning $4.25 versus $3.87 in the prior year. For the next year, the market is expecting a contraction of 10.6% in earnings ($3.80 versus $4.25).

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

Altria Group

Dividend Yield: 4.90%

Altria Group (NYSE: MO) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.90%.

Altria Group, Inc., through its subsidiaries, manufactures and sells cigarettes, smokeless products, and wine in the United States and internationally. The company has a P/E ratio of 19.71.

The average volume for Altria Group has been 6,605,100 shares per day over the past 30 days. Altria Group has a market cap of $84.8 billion and is part of the tobacco industry. Shares are up 11.6% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Tuesday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates Altria Group as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, expanding profit margins, growth in earnings per share, solid stock price performance and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally high debt management risk by most measures that we evaluated.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • MO's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 0.5%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 1.0%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.
  • The gross profit margin for ALTRIA GROUP INC is rather high; currently it is at 57.93%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 27.60% is above that of the industry average.
  • ALTRIA GROUP INC'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, ALTRIA GROUP INC increased its bottom line by earning $2.26 versus $2.06 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.57 versus $2.26).
  • Investors have apparently begun to recognize positive factors similar to those we have mentioned in this report, including earnings growth. This has helped drive up the company's shares by a sharp 27.25% over the past year, a rise that has exceeded that of the S&P 500 Index. Looking ahead, the stock's sharp 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 other strengths this company displays justify these higher price levels.
  • 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 Tobacco industry and the overall market, ALTRIA GROUP INC's return on equity significantly exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.

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

GEO Group

Dividend Yield: 6.10%

GEO Group (NYSE: GEO) shares currently have a dividend yield of 6.10%.

The GEO Group, Inc. provides government-outsourced services specializing in the management of correctional, detention, and re-entry facilities, and the provision of community based services and youth services in the United States, Australia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and Canada. The company has a P/E ratio of 21.25.

The average volume for GEO Group has been 505,100 shares per day over the past 30 days. GEO Group has a market cap of $2.7 billion and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are up 16.3% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Tuesday.

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 GEO Group as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its increase in net income, revenue growth, reasonable valuation levels, increase in stock price during the past year and growth in earnings per share. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows low profit margins.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry average. The net income increased by 13.7% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $34.21 million to $38.90 million.
  • 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 8.2%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.
  • The stock price has risen over the past year, but, despite its earnings growth and some other positive factors, it has underperformed the S&P 500 so far. 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.
  • GEO GROUP INC has improved earnings per share by 12.5% 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, GEO GROUP INC reported lower earnings of $1.64 versus $2.37 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.94 versus $1.64).

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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