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."

Williams Companies

Dividend Yield: 4.70%

Williams Companies (NYSE: WMB) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.70%.

The Williams Companies, Inc. operates as an energy infrastructure company. The company has a P/E ratio of 90.36.

The average volume for Williams Companies has been 5,896,400 shares per day over the past 30 days. Williams Companies has a market cap of $35.8 billion and is part of the energy industry. Shares are up 28.9% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

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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 43.53%, 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 2.8%. 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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Piedmont Office Realty

Dividend Yield: 4.40%

Piedmont Office Realty (NYSE: PDM) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.40%.

Piedmont Office Realty Trust, Inc. engages in the acquisition and ownership of commercial real estate properties in the United States. Its property portfolio primarily consists of office and industrial buildings, warehouses, and manufacturing facilities. The company has a P/E ratio of 53.79.

The average volume for Piedmont Office Realty has been 749,600 shares per day over the past 30 days. Piedmont Office Realty has a market cap of $2.8 billion and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are up 11.3% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates Piedmont Office Realty as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, reasonable valuation levels and increase in stock price during the past year. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including deteriorating net income, disappointing return on equity and poor profit margins.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 11.4%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 3.9%. 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 PIEDMONT OFFICE REALTY TRUST is rather low; currently it is at 18.75%. It has decreased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 8.90% significantly trails the industry average.
  • Net operating cash flow has decreased to $38.84 million or 14.37% 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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Atlas Energy

Dividend Yield: 5.60%

Atlas Energy (NYSE: ATLS) shares currently have a dividend yield of 5.60%.

Atlas Energy, L.P. develops and produces natural gas, crude oil, and natural gas liquids (NGLs) in basins across the United States. It also sponsors and manages tax-advantaged investment partnerships.

The average volume for Atlas Energy has been 577,000 shares per day over the past 30 days. Atlas Energy has a market cap of $1.8 billion and is part of the energy industry. Shares are down 24.6% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates Atlas Energy as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth and good cash flow from operations. 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:
  • The revenue growth greatly exceeded the industry average of 2.8%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 32.5%. 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 121.89% to $13.67 million when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, ATLAS ENERGY LP has also vastly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of -4.80%.
  • ATLAS ENERGY LP's earnings per share declined by 18.8% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has reported a trend of declining earnings per share over the past two years. However, the consensus estimate suggests that this trend should reverse in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, ATLAS ENERGY LP reported poor results of -$1.48 versus -$1.02 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings (-$1.05 versus -$1.48).
  • Return on equity has greatly decreased when compared to its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a signal of major weakness within the corporation. Compared to other companies in the Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry and the overall market, ATLAS ENERGY LP's return on equity significantly trails that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • The gross profit margin for ATLAS ENERGY LP is rather low; currently it is at 21.11%. It has decreased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of -1.17% trails that of the industry average.

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