What To Hold: 3 Hold-Rated Dividend Stocks SPH, NKA, MCEP

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."

Suburban Propane Partners

Dividend Yield: 7.90%

Suburban Propane Partners (NYSE: SPH) shares currently have a dividend yield of 7.90%.

Suburban Propane Partners, L.P., through its subsidiaries, is engaged in the retail marketing and distribution of propane, fuel oil, and refined fuels. The company has a P/E ratio of 32.96.

The average volume for Suburban Propane Partners has been 159,700 shares per day over the past 30 days. Suburban Propane Partners has a market cap of $2.7 billion and is part of the utilities industry. Shares are down 5.2% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates Suburban Propane Partners as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, good cash flow from operations and notable return on equity. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself, unimpressive growth in net income and poor profit margins.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 9.0%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 2.2%. 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 significantly increased by 87.32% to $124.58 million when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, SUBURBAN PROPANE PRTNRS -LP has also vastly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of 26.46%.
  • SUBURBAN PROPANE PRTNRS -LP's earnings per share declined by 27.3% 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, SUBURBAN PROPANE PRTNRS -LP increased its bottom line by earning $1.44 versus $0.48 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.91 versus $1.44).
  • The gross profit margin for SUBURBAN PROPANE PRTNRS -LP is currently extremely low, coming in at 7.63%. It has decreased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of -19.85% is significantly below that of the industry average.
  • In its most recent trading session, SPH 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. Looking ahead, we do not see anything in this company's numbers that would change the one-year trend. It was down over the last twelve months; and it could be down again in the next twelve. Naturally, a bull or bear market could sway the movement of this stock.

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Niska Gas Storage Partners

Dividend Yield: 10.50%

Niska Gas Storage Partners (NYSE: NKA) shares currently have a dividend yield of 10.50%.

Niska Gas Storage Partners LLC owns and operates natural gas storage assets in North America.

The average volume for Niska Gas Storage Partners has been 85,900 shares per day over the past 30 days. Niska Gas Storage Partners has a market cap of $481.3 million and is part of the utilities industry. Shares are down 9.6% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates Niska Gas Storage Partners 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, generally higher debt management risk and disappointing return on equity.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The gross profit margin for NISKA GAS STORAGE PARTNERS is rather high; currently it is at 62.03%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Regardless of the strong results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of -34.25% is in-line with the industry average.
  • NKA, with its decline in revenue, slightly underperformed the industry average of 3.1%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 3.2%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • NISKA GAS STORAGE PARTNERS 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 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, NISKA GAS STORAGE PARTNERS continued to lose money by earning -$0.24 versus -$0.63 in the prior year. For the next year, the market is expecting a contraction of 125.0% in earnings (-$0.54 versus -$0.24).
  • The debt-to-equity ratio of 1.50 is relatively high when compared with the industry average, suggesting a need for better debt level management. Along with this, the company manages to maintain a quick ratio of 0.34, which clearly demonstrates the inability to cover short-term cash needs.
  • 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, NISKA GAS STORAGE PARTNERS's return on equity significantly trails that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.

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Mid-Con Energy Partners

Dividend Yield: 9.40%

Mid-Con Energy Partners (NASDAQ: MCEP) shares currently have a dividend yield of 9.40%.

Mid-Con Energy Partners, LP is engaged in the acquisition, exploitation, development, and production of oil and natural gas properties in North America. The company has a P/E ratio of 23.15.

The average volume for Mid-Con Energy Partners has been 76,200 shares per day over the past 30 days. Mid-Con Energy Partners has a market cap of $464.6 million and is part of the energy industry. Shares are down 4.5% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates Mid-Con Energy Partners 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 a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself, feeble growth in the company's earnings per share and deteriorating net income.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The gross profit margin for MID-CON ENERGY PARTNERS -LP is rather high; currently it is at 58.40%. Despite the high profit margin, it has decreased significantly from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, MCEP's net profit margin of 19.78% significantly outperformed against the industry.
  • MCEP, with its decline in revenue, underperformed when compared the industry average of 3.1%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues fell by 14.6%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • 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, MID-CON ENERGY PARTNERS -LP has underperformed in comparison with the industry average, but has exceeded that of the S&P 500.
  • MID-CON ENERGY PARTNERS -LP 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. Earnings per share have declined over the last year. We anticipate that this should continue in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, MID-CON ENERGY PARTNERS -LP reported lower earnings of $1.44 versus $1.63 in the prior year. For the next year, the market is expecting a contraction of 18.1% in earnings ($1.18 versus $1.44).
  • 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 63.5% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $10.54 million to $3.85 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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