Buy-Rated Dividend Stocks: Top 3 Companies: LHO, VZ, PSEC

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."

LaSalle Hotel Properties

Dividend Yield: 4.10%

LaSalle Hotel Properties (NYSE: LHO) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.10%.

LaSalle Hotel Properties, a real estate investment trust (REIT), engages in the purchase, ownership, redevelopment, and leasing of primarily upscale and luxury full-service hotels in convention, resort, and urban business markets in the United States. The company has a P/E ratio of 31.21.

The average volume for LaSalle Hotel Properties has been 968,700 shares per day over the past 30 days. LaSalle Hotel Properties has a market cap of $3.8 billion and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are up 17% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates LaSalle Hotel Properties as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, solid stock price performance, impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income and reasonable valuation levels. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows low profit margins.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • LHO's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 10.6%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 17.7%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • Powered by its strong earnings growth of 121.62% and other important driving factors, this stock has surged by 36.91% over the past year, outperforming the rise in the S&P 500 Index during the same period. Regarding the stock's future course, although almost any stock can fall in a broad market decline, LHO should continue to move higher despite the fact that it has already enjoyed a very nice gain in the past year.
  • LASALLE HOTEL PROPERTIES reported significant earnings per share improvement in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. 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, LASALLE HOTEL PROPERTIES increased its bottom line by earning $0.73 versus $0.52 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.36 versus $0.73).
  • 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 121.9% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $40.86 million to $90.69 million.

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Verizon Communications

Dividend Yield: 4.50%

Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.50%.

Verizon Communications Inc. provides communications, information, and entertainment products and services to consumers, businesses, and governmental agencies worldwide. The company has a P/E ratio of 10.43.

The average volume for Verizon Communications has been 12,992,300 shares per day over the past 30 days. Verizon Communications has a market cap of $202.7 billion and is part of the telecommunications industry. Shares are down 0.8% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates Verizon Communications as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, notable return on equity, compelling growth in net income, increase in stock price during the past year and expanding profit margins. 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:
  • VZ's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 1.4%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 5.7%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • The company's current return on equity greatly increased when compared to its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a signal of significant strength within the corporation. Compared to other companies in the Diversified Telecommunication Services industry and the overall market, VERIZON COMMUNICATIONS INC's return on equity significantly exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Diversified Telecommunication Services industry. The net income increased by 87.6% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $2,246.00 million to $4,214.00 million.
  • 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. Looking ahead, unless broad bear market conditions prevail, we still see more upside potential for this stock, despite the fact that it has already risen over the past year.
  • The gross profit margin for VERIZON COMMUNICATIONS INC is rather high; currently it is at 61.61%. Regardless of VZ's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, VZ's net profit margin of 13.38% compares favorably to the industry average.

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Prospect Capital Corporation

Dividend Yield: 12.80%

Prospect Capital Corporation (NASDAQ: PSEC) shares currently have a dividend yield of 12.80%.

Prospect Capital Corporation is a business development company. The company has a P/E ratio of 9.75.

The average volume for Prospect Capital Corporation has been 4,626,500 shares per day over the past 30 days. Prospect Capital Corporation has a market cap of $3.5 billion and is part of the financial services industry. Shares are down 8.1% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates Prospect Capital Corporation as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, good cash flow from operations, expanding profit margins and notable return on equity. 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 revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 3.0%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 9.3%. 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.
  • Net operating cash flow has increased to -$177.43 million or 33.76% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, PROSPECT CAPITAL CORP has also vastly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of -89.01%.
  • The gross profit margin for PROSPECT CAPITAL CORP is rather high; currently it is at 68.68%. Regardless of PSEC's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, PSEC's net profit margin of 39.36% significantly outperformed against the industry.
  • PROSPECT CAPITAL CORP's earnings per share declined by 38.2% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. Stable earnings per share over the past year indicate the company has sound management over its earnings and share float. We anticipate these figures will begin to experience more growth in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, PROSPECT CAPITAL CORP increased its bottom line by earning $1.08 versus $1.07 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.19 versus $1.08).
  • 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 Capital Markets industry and the overall market, PROSPECT CAPITAL CORP's return on equity is below that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.

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