3 Buy-Rated Dividend Stocks Taking The Lead: KCAP, WSR, NMFC

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."

KCAP Financial

Dividend Yield: 11.70%

KCAP Financial (NASDAQ: KCAP) shares currently have a dividend yield of 11.70%.

KCAP Financial, Inc. is a private equity and venture capital firm specializing in mid market, buyouts, and mezzanine investments. It focuses on mature and middle market companies. The company has a P/E ratio of 17.08.

The average volume for KCAP Financial has been 299,700 shares per day over the past 30 days. KCAP Financial has a market cap of $288.0 million and is part of the financial services industry. Shares are up 4.3% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates KCAP Financial as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, expanding profit margins, good cash flow from operations, increase in net income and growth in earnings per share. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had somewhat disappointing return on equity.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 2.5%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 17.6%. 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 KCAP FINANCIAL INC is currently very high, coming in at 82.71%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 92.70% significantly outperformed against the industry average.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 141.63% to $6.02 million when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, KCAP FINANCIAL INC has also vastly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of -89.07%.
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Capital Markets industry. The net income increased by 43.6% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $8.53 million to $12.25 million.
  • KCAP FINANCIAL INC has improved earnings per share by 36.0% 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, KCAP FINANCIAL INC reported lower earnings of $0.53 versus $0.91 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($0.98 versus $0.53).

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

Whitestone REIT

Dividend Yield: 8.00%

Whitestone REIT (NYSE: WSR) shares currently have a dividend yield of 8.00%.

WhiteStone REIT is a Maryland REIT engaged in owning and operating commercial properties in culturally diverse markets in major metropolitan areas. The company has a P/E ratio of 57.04.

The average volume for Whitestone REIT has been 92,900 shares per day over the past 30 days. Whitestone REIT has a market cap of $323.9 million and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are up 8.6% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

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 Whitestone REIT as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, compelling growth in net income, reasonable valuation levels, good cash flow from operations and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows low profit margins.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • WSR's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 11.6%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 19.0%. 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 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 29.2% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $0.97 million to $1.25 million.
  • Net operating cash flow has increased to $6.25 million or 43.77% when compared to the same quarter last year. The firm also exceeded the industry average cash flow growth rate of 18.92%.
  • WHITESTONE REIT's earnings per share declined by 16.7% 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, WHITESTONE REIT increased its bottom line by earning $0.21 versus $0.04 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($0.28 versus $0.21).

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

New Mountain Finance

Dividend Yield: 9.20%

New Mountain Finance (NYSE: NMFC) shares currently have a dividend yield of 9.20%.

New Mountain Finance Corporation operates as a closed-end, non-diversified management investment company. The company has a P/E ratio of 8.27.

The average volume for New Mountain Finance has been 488,600 shares per day over the past 30 days. New Mountain Finance has a market cap of $771.0 million and is part of the financial services industry. Shares are down 1.9% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

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 New Mountain Finance as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, compelling growth in net income, expanding profit margins, increase in stock price during the past year and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The revenue growth greatly exceeded the industry average of 2.5%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 27.7%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Capital Markets industry. The net income increased by 115.3% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $10.99 million to $23.66 million.
  • The gross profit margin for NEW MOUNTAIN FINANCE CORP is rather high; currently it is at 58.88%. Regardless of NMFC's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, NMFC's net profit margin of 70.19% significantly outperformed against the industry.
  • 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, NEW MOUNTAIN FINANCE CORP's return on equity is below that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • In its most recent trading session, NMFC has closed at a price level that was not very different from its closing price of one year earlier. This is probably due to its weak earnings growth as well as other mixed factors. 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.

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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