NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Looking to boost your portfolio's exposure to high-yielding dividend stocks? Look no further. 

Whether it's for income generation or historical performance, we've got you covered. Using TheStreet Ratings, TheStreet's proprietary stock rating tool, here are eight stocks in the S&P 500 with "buy" ratings and high dividend yields.

TheStreet Ratings projects a stock's total return potential over a 12-month period including both price appreciation and dividends. Based on 32 major data points, TheStreet Ratings uses a quantitative approach to rating over 4,300 stocks to predict return potential for the next year. The model is both objective, using elements such as volatility of past operating revenues, financial strength, and company cash flows, and subjective, including expected equities market returns, future interest rates, implied industry outlook and forecasted company earnings.

Buying an S&P 500 stock that TheStreet Ratings rated a "buy" yielded a 16.56% return in 2014 beating the S&P 500 Total Return Index by 304 basis points. Buying a Russell 2000 stock that TheStreet Ratings rated a "buy" yielded a 9.5% return in 2014, beating the Russell 2000 index, including dividends reinvested, by 460 basis points last year.

Click through to see these best of the best stocks. Note: year-to-date return percentages are based on Feb. 13, 2015 closing prices.


CTL Chart CTL data by YCharts

8. CenturyLink Inc. (CTL - Get Report)
Rating: Buy, B-

YTD Return: -0.3%
Annual Dividend Yield: 5.49%

CenturyLink, Inc. operates as an integrated telecommunications company in the United States. The company operates through four segments: Consumer, Business, Wholesale, and Data Hosting.

TheStreet Ratings team rates CENTURYLINK INC as a Buy with a ratings score of B-. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate CENTURYLINK INC (CTL) a BUY. This is driven by multiple strengths, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its good cash flow from operations, expanding profit margins, solid stock price performance, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and notable return on equity. Although the company may harbor some minor weaknesses, we feel they are unlikely to have a significant impact on results."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • Net operating cash flow has slightly increased to $1,251.00 million or 8.68% when compared to the same quarter last year. The firm also exceeded the industry average cash flow growth rate of -27.04%.
  • The gross profit margin for CENTURYLINK INC is rather high; currently it is at 56.38%. Regardless of CTL's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year.
  • Compared to its closing price of one year ago, CTL's share price has jumped by 30.14%, exceeding the performance of the broader market during that same time frame. Looking ahead, the stock's sharp rise over the last year has already helped drive it to a level which is relatively expensive compared to the rest of its industry. We feel, however, that other strengths this company displays justify these higher price levels.
  • CENTURYLINK INC's earnings per share declined by 19.5% 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, CENTURYLINK INC turned its bottom line around by earning $1.35 versus -$0.43 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.56 versus $1.35).
  • CTL, with its decline in revenue, slightly underperformed the industry average of 1.8%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 2.3%. The declining revenue appears to have seeped down to the company's bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.

 

 

WMB Chart WMB data by YCharts


7. The Williams Cos. (WMB - Get Report)
Rating: Buy, B-

YTD Return: 9.9%
Annual Dividend Yield: 4.66%

The Williams Companies, Inc. operates as an energy infrastructure company.

TheStreet Ratings team rates WILLIAMS COS INC as a Buy with a ratings score of B-. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate WILLIAMS COS INC (WMB) a BUY. This is driven by multiple strengths, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, notable return on equity, expanding profit margins, solid stock price performance and compelling growth in net income. 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 analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • The revenue growth greatly exceeded the industry average of 20.6%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 27.5%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • Compared to where it was a year ago today, the stock is now trading at a higher level, reflecting both the market's overall trend during that period and the fact that the company's earnings growth has been robust. 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.
  • Current return on equity exceeded its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a clear sign of strength within the company. Compared to other companies in the Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry and the overall market, WILLIAMS COS INC's return on equity exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • 41.08% is the gross profit margin for WILLIAMS COS INC which we consider to be strong. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 81.10% significantly outperformed against the industry average.
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry. The net income increased by 1090.1% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $141.00 million to $1,678.00 million.

 

FTR Chart FTR data by YCharts

6. Frontier Communications (FTR - Get Report)
Rating: Buy, B

YTD Return: 25.6%
Annual Dividend Yield: 4.77%

Frontier Communications Corporation, a communications company, provides regulated and unregulated voice, data, and video services to residential, business, and wholesale customers in the United States.

TheStreet Ratings team rates FRONTIER COMMUNICATIONS CORP as a Buy with a ratings score of B. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate FRONTIER COMMUNICATIONS CORP (FTR) a BUY. This is driven by a few notable strengths, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its compelling growth in net income, solid stock price performance, expanding profit margins and notable return on equity. 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 analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has exceeded that of the S&P 500 and greatly outperformed compared to the Diversified Telecommunication Services industry average. The net income increased by 18.6% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $35.40 million to $41.99 million.
  • Compared to its closing price of one year ago, FTR's share price has jumped by 81.95%, exceeding the performance of the broader market during that same time frame. We feel that the stock's sharp appreciation over the last year has driven it to a price level which is now somewhat expensive compared to the rest of its industry. The other strengths this company shows, however, justify the higher price levels.
  • 43.79% is the gross profit margin for FRONTIER COMMUNICATIONS CORP which we consider to be strong. Regardless of FTR's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year.
  • FRONTIER COMMUNICATIONS CORP reported flat earnings per share in the most recent quarter. The company has suffered a declining pattern of earnings per share over the past two years. However, we anticipate this trend to reverse over the coming year. During the past fiscal year, FRONTIER COMMUNICATIONS CORP reported lower earnings of $0.12 versus $0.14 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($0.20 versus $0.12).
  • FTR, with its decline in revenue, slightly underperformed the industry average of 1.8%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 3.7%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to not be hurting the bottom line, shown by stable earnings per share.

 

HCP Chart HCP data by YCharts

5. HCP Inc. (HCP - Get Report)
Rating: Buy, B

YTD Return: -2.6%
Annual Dividend Yield: 5.10%

HCP, Inc. is an independent hybrid real estate investment trust. The fund invests in real estate markets of the United States.

TheStreet Ratings team rates HCP INC as a Buy with a ratings score of B. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate HCP INC (HCP) a BUY. This is driven by multiple strengths, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, good cash flow from operations, increase in stock price during the past year and expanding profit margins. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had subpar growth in net income."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 1.0%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 11.5%. 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 increased to $365.60 million or 19.74% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, HCP INC has also vastly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of -55.78%.
  • Compared to where it was a year ago today, the stock is now trading at a higher level, regardless of the company's weak earnings results. 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.
  • The gross profit margin for HCP INC is rather high; currently it is at 56.56%. Regardless of HCP'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 32.03% trails the industry average.
  • HCP INC's earnings per share declined by 15.7% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has suffered a declining pattern of earnings per share over the past year. However, we anticipate this trend reversing over the coming year. During the past fiscal year, HCP INC reported lower earnings of $1.95 versus $1.97 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.03 versus $1.95).

 

IRM Chart IRM data by YCharts

4. Iron Mountain Inc. (IRM - Get Report)
Rating: Buy, B

YTD Return: 1.8%
Annual Dividend Yield: 4.69%

Iron Mountain Incorporated, together with its subsidiaries, provides storage and information management services primarily in North America, Europe, Latin America, and the Asia Pacific.

TheStreet Ratings team rates IRON MOUNTAIN INC as a Buy with a ratings score of B. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate IRON MOUNTAIN INC (IRM) a BUY. This is driven by multiple strengths, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, notable return on equity, solid stock price performance and expanding profit margins. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had subpar growth in net income."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • IRM's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 1.0%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 3.6%. 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 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 Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry and the overall market, IRON MOUNTAIN INC's return on equity significantly exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • Compared to its closing price of one year ago, IRM's share price has jumped by 48.89%, exceeding the performance of the broader market during that same time frame. Regarding the stock's future course, although almost any stock can fall in a broad market decline, IRM should continue to move higher despite the fact that it has already enjoyed a very nice gain in the past year.
  • IRON MOUNTAIN INC 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. The company has suffered a declining pattern of earnings per share over the past two years. However, we anticipate this trend to reverse over the coming year. During the past fiscal year, IRON MOUNTAIN INC reported lower earnings of $0.52 versus $1.05 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.36 versus $0.52).
  • The gross profit margin for IRON MOUNTAIN INC is rather high; currently it is at 57.10%. Regardless of IRM's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, IRM's net profit margin of 0.00% is significantly lower than the industry average.

 

PBCT Chart PBCT data by YCharts

3. People's United Financial Inc. (PBCT - Get Report)
Rating: Buy, B

YTD Return: -1.5%
Annual Dividend Yield: 4.41%

People's United Financial, Inc. operates as the bank holding company for People's United Bank that provides commercial banking, retail and business banking, and wealth management services to individual, corporate, and municipal customers.

TheStreet Ratings team rates PEOPLE'S UNITED FINL INC as a Buy with a ratings score of B. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate PEOPLE'S UNITED FINL INC (PBCT) a BUY. This is driven by some important positives, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, reasonable valuation levels, increase in stock price during the past year, growth in earnings per share and expanding profit margins. Although the company may harbor some minor weaknesses, we feel they are unlikely to have a significant impact on results."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 19.6%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 3.8%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.
  • The stock price has risen over the past year, but, despite its earnings growth and some other positive factors, it has underperformed the S&P 500 so far. 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.
  • PEOPLE'S UNITED FINL INC has improved earnings per share by 15.8% 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. However, we anticipate underperformance relative to this pattern in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, PEOPLE'S UNITED FINL INC increased its bottom line by earning $0.85 versus $0.74 in the prior year. This year, the market expects earnings to be in line with last year ($0.85 versus $0.85).
  • The gross profit margin for PEOPLE'S UNITED FINL INC is currently very high, coming in at 88.05%. Regardless of PBCT'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 18.67% trails the industry average.

 

 

TE Chart TE data by YCharts

2. TECO Energy Inc. (TE)
Rating: Buy, B

YTD Return: -4.4%
Annual Dividend Yield: 4.41%

TECO Energy, Inc., an electric and gas utility holding company, is engaged in the regulated electric and gas utility operations.

TheStreet Ratings team rates TECO ENERGY INC as a Buy with a ratings score of B. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate TECO ENERGY INC (TE) a BUY. This is driven by multiple strengths, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, good cash flow from operations and solid stock price performance. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had subpar growth in net income."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 1.6%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 23.7%. 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.
  • TECO ENERGY INC's earnings per share declined by 35.3% 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, TECO ENERGY INC increased its bottom line by earning $0.92 versus $0.88 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.10 versus $0.92).
  • Net operating cash flow has slightly increased to $158.60 million or 4.00% when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite an increase in cash flow of 4.00%, TECO ENERGY INC is still growing at a significantly lower rate than the industry average of 73.90%.
  • Looking at where the stock is today compared to one year ago, we find that it is not only higher, but it has also clearly outperformed the rise in the S&P 500 over the same period, despite the company's weak earnings results. Looking ahead, the stock's rise over the last year has already helped drive it to a level which is relatively expensive compared to the rest of its industry. We feel, however, that the other strengths this company displays justify these higher price levels.
  • Even though the current debt-to-equity ratio is 1.46, it is still below the industry average, suggesting that this level of debt is acceptable within the Multi-Utilities industry. Even though the debt-to-equity ratio shows mixed results, the company's quick ratio of 0.30 is very low and demonstrates very weak liquidity.


SO Chart SO data by YCharts

1. Southern Co. (SO - Get Report)
Rating: Buy, A-
YTD Return: -6.6%
Annual Dividend Yield: 4.51%

The Southern Company, together with its subsidiaries, operates as a public electric utility company.

TheStreet Ratings team rates SOUTHERN CO as a Buy with a ratings score of A-. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate SOUTHERN CO (SO) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth and increase in stock price during the past year. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had subpar growth in net income."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 12.2%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 3.1%. 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.
  • SOUTHERN CO's earnings per share declined by 29.8% 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, SOUTHERN CO increased its bottom line by earning $2.20 versus $1.87 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.85 versus $2.20).
  • Compared to where it was a year ago today, the stock is now trading at a higher level, regardless of the company's weak earnings results. The stock's price rise over the last year has driven it to a level which is somewhat expensive compared to the rest of its industry. We feel, however, that other strengths this company displays justify these higher price levels.
  • 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 Electric Utilities industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 26.4% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $431.00 million to $317.00 million.
  • The gross profit margin for SOUTHERN CO is currently lower than what is desirable, coming in at 26.82%. It has decreased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 7.82% trails that of the industry average.