3 Hold-Rated Dividend Stocks: ACC, WMB, VALE

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."

American Campus Communities

Dividend Yield: 4.20%

American Campus Communities (NYSE: ACC) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.20%.

American Campus Communities, Inc. is an independent equity real estate investment trust. The firm invests in the real estate markets of the United States. It primarily engages in developing, owning, and managing high-quality student housing communities. The company has a P/E ratio of 64.18.

The average volume for American Campus Communities has been 607,400 shares per day over the past 30 days. American Campus Communities has a market cap of $3.8 billion and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are up 13% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates American Campus Communities as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, reasonable valuation levels and compelling growth in net income. However, as a counter to these strengths, we find that the company's profit margins have been poor overall.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • ACC's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 11.6%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 12.2%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.
  • Net operating cash flow has increased to $52.21 million or 14.17% when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite an increase in cash flow, AMERICAN CAMPUS COMMUNITIES's average is still marginally south of the industry average growth rate of 19.03%.
  • 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. Compared to other companies in the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry and the overall market on the basis of return on equity, AMERICAN CAMPUS COMMUNITIES underperformed against that of the industry average and is significantly less than that of the S&P 500.
  • The gross profit margin for AMERICAN CAMPUS COMMUNITIES is rather low; currently it is at 21.08%. Regardless of ACC's low profit margin, it has managed to increase from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, ACC's net profit margin of 7.76% is significantly lower than the industry average.

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Williams Companies

Dividend Yield: 4.10%

Williams Companies (NYSE: WMB) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.10%.

The Williams Companies, Inc. operates as an energy infrastructure company. The company has a P/E ratio of 104.30.

The average volume for Williams Companies has been 4,931,500 shares per day over the past 30 days. Williams Companies has a market cap of $41.3 billion and is part of the energy industry. Shares are up 46.5% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates Williams Companies 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, generally higher debt management risk and disappointing return on equity.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Compared to its closing price of one year ago, WMB's share price has jumped by 52.58%, exceeding the performance of the broader market during that same time frame. Setting our sights on the months ahead, however, we feel that the stock's sharp appreciation over the last year has driven it to a price level which is now relatively expensive compared to the rest of its industry. The implication is that its reduced upside potential is not good enough to warrant further investment at this time.
  • 38.50% is the gross profit margin for WILLIAMS COS INC which we consider to be strong. Regardless of WMB's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of 6.13% trails the industry average.
  • WMB, with its decline in revenue, slightly underperformed the industry average of 3.0%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 5.0%. The declining revenue appears to have seeped down to the company's 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. In comparison to the other companies in the Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry and the overall market, WILLIAMS COS INC's return on equity is significantly below that of the industry average and is below that of the S&P 500.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly decreased to $313.00 million or 53.14% 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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Vale

Dividend Yield: 6.90%

Vale (NYSE: VALE) shares currently have a dividend yield of 6.90%.

Vale S.A. is engaged in the research, production, and sale of iron ore and pellets, nickel, fertilizer, copper, coal, manganese, ferroalloys, cobalt, platinum group metals, and precious metals. The company has a P/E ratio of 10.58.

The average volume for Vale has been 19,889,300 shares per day over the past 30 days. Vale has a market cap of $58.3 billion and is part of the metals & mining industry. Shares are down 26.6% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

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

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • VALE's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 0.6%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 4.8%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost 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 Metals & Mining industry. The net income increased by 1113.0% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $117.72 million to $1,428.00 million.
  • VALE SA reported significant earnings per share improvement 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, VALE SA reported lower earnings of $0.01 versus $0.94 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.58 versus $0.01).
  • 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. Compared to other companies in the Metals & Mining industry and the overall market on the basis of return on equity, VALE SA underperformed against that of the industry average and is significantly less than that of the S&P 500.
  • VALE's stock share price has done very poorly compared to where it was a year ago: Despite any rallies, the net result is that it is down by 29.48%, which is also worse that the performance of the S&P 500 Index. Investors have so far failed to pay much attention to the earnings improvements the company has managed to achieve over the last quarter. Although its share price is down sharply from a year ago, do not assume that it can now be tagged as cheap and attractive. The reality is that, based on its current price in relation to its earnings, VALE is still more expensive than most of the other companies in its industry.

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