3 Hold-Rated Dividend Stocks: ATAI, NRP, LRE

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."

ATA

Dividend Yield: 8.50%

ATA (NASDAQ: ATAI) shares currently have a dividend yield of 8.50%.

ATA Inc. provides computer-based testing services in the People's Republic of China. The company has a P/E ratio of 22.90.

The average volume for ATA has been 17,200 shares per day over the past 30 days. ATA has a market cap of $105.5 million and is part of the diversified services industry. Shares are up 14.2% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates ATA as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and expanding profit margins. 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:
  • ATAI has no debt to speak of therefore resulting in a debt-to-equity ratio of zero, which we consider to be a relatively favorable sign. Along with this, the company maintains a quick ratio of 2.83, which clearly demonstrates the ability to cover short-term cash needs.
  • The gross profit margin for ATA INC -ADS is rather high; currently it is at 56.34%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Despite the strong results of the gross profit margin, ATAI's net profit margin of 5.45% significantly trails the industry average.
  • ATA INC -ADS has experienced a steep decline in earnings per share in the most recent quarter in comparison to its performance from the same quarter a year ago. This company has not demonstrated a clear trend in earnings over the past 2 years, making it difficult to accurately predict earnings for the coming year. During the past fiscal year, ATA INC -ADS increased its bottom line by earning $0.19 versus $0.16 in the prior year.
  • 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 Diversified Consumer Services industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 51.6% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $1.53 million to $0.74 million.
  • 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. In comparison to the other companies in the Diversified Consumer Services industry and the overall market, ATA INC -ADS's return on equity is significantly below that of the industry average and is below that of the S&P 500.

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Natural Resources Partners

Dividend Yield: 9.00%

Natural Resources Partners (NYSE: NRP) shares currently have a dividend yield of 9.00%.

Natural Resource Partners L.P., through its subsidiaries, owns, manages, and leases mineral properties in the United States. The company has a P/E ratio of 11.83.

The average volume for Natural Resources Partners has been 327,300 shares per day over the past 30 days. Natural Resources Partners has a market cap of $1.7 billion and is part of the metals & mining industry. Shares are down 22.1% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates Natural Resources Partners as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth and expanding profit margins. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including feeble growth in the company's earnings per share, deteriorating net income and generally higher debt management risk.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • NRP's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 3.5%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 2.8%. 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 NATURAL RESOURCE PARTNERS LP is currently very high, coming in at 81.79%. Despite the high profit margin, it has decreased significantly from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, NRP's net profit margin of 38.69% significantly outperformed against the industry.
  • 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 Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry and the overall market on the basis of return on equity, NATURAL RESOURCE 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 1.80 is quite high overall and when compared to the industry average, suggesting that the current management of debt levels should be re-evaluated. Along with the unfavorable debt-to-equity ratio, NRP maintains a poor quick ratio of 0.93, which illustrates the inability to avoid short-term cash problems.
  • Net operating cash flow has decreased to $61.01 million or 23.48% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, when comparing the cash generation rate to the industry average, the firm's growth is significantly lower.

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LRR Energy

Dividend Yield: 10.20%

LRR Energy (NYSE: LRE) shares currently have a dividend yield of 10.20%.

LRR Energy, L.P., through its subsidiary, LRE Operating, LLC, operates, acquires, exploits, and develops producing oil and natural gas properties in North America.

The average volume for LRR Energy has been 121,200 shares per day over the past 30 days. LRR Energy has a market cap of $444.7 million and is part of the energy industry. Shares are up 13.4% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates LRR Energy as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its solid stock price performance 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:
  • LRE's share price has surged by 25.47% over the past year, reflecting the market's general trend, despite their weak earnings growth during the last quarter. Regarding the stock's future course, our hold rating indicates that we do not recommend additional investment in this stock despite its gains in the past year.
  • LRE, with its very weak revenue results, has greatly underperformed against the industry average of 3.5%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues plummeted by 58.0%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • 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 Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 135.8% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $20.52 million to -$7.34 million.
  • Net operating cash flow has declined marginally to $15.54 million or 9.98% when compared to the same quarter last year. In conjunction, when comparing current results to the industry average, LRR ENERGY LP has marginally lower results.

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