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

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 "Sell."

ZAIS Financial

Dividend Yield: 9.10%

ZAIS Financial (NYSE: ZFC) shares currently have a dividend yield of 9.10%.

Zais Financial Corp. invests in, finances, and manages performing and re-performing residential mortgage loans. The company also invests in, finances, and manages residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) that are not issued or guaranteed by a federally chartered corporation. The company has a P/E ratio of 4.26.

The average volume for ZAIS Financial has been 18,600 shares per day over the past 30 days. ZAIS Financial has a market cap of $139.5 million and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are up 1.3% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates ZAIS Financial as a sell. Among the areas we feel are negative, one of the most important has been unimpressive growth in net income over time.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • 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 Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 69.0% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $3.72 million to $1.15 million.
  • In its most recent trading session, ZFC 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. Regardless of the rise in share value over the previous year, we feel that the risks involved in investing in this stock do not compensate for any future upside potential.
  • ZAIS FINANCIAL CORP 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. But, we feel it is poised for EPS growth in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, ZAIS FINANCIAL CORP increased its bottom line by earning $0.81 versus $0.23 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.27 versus $0.81).
  • The gross profit margin for ZAIS FINANCIAL CORP is rather high; currently it is at 68.88%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Despite the strong results of the gross profit margin, ZFC's net profit margin of 10.45% significantly trails the industry average.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 147.05% to $4.16 million when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, ZAIS FINANCIAL CORP has also vastly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of -43.90%.

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Ellington Residential Mortgage REIT

Dividend Yield: 13.20%

Ellington Residential Mortgage REIT (NYSE: EARN) shares currently have a dividend yield of 13.20%.

No company description available. The company has a P/E ratio of 8.69.

The average volume for Ellington Residential Mortgage REIT has been 68,100 shares per day over the past 30 days. Ellington Residential Mortgage REIT has a market cap of $152.7 million and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are up 2% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Tuesday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates Ellington Residential Mortgage REIT as a sell. The company's weaknesses can be seen in multiple areas, such as its unimpressive growth in net income and generally disappointing historical performance in the stock itself.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • 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 Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 840.8% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from -$0.13 million to -$1.18 million.
  • In its most recent trading session, EARN 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. The fact that the stock is now selling for less than others in its industry in relation to its current earnings is not reason enough to justify a buy rating at this time.
  • The gross profit margin for ELLINGTON RESIDENTIAL MTG is currently very high, coming in at 85.20%. Regardless of EARN's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, EARN's net profit margin of -9.96% significantly underperformed when compared to the industry average.
  • EARN, with its decline in revenue, slightly underperformed the industry average of 3.1%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 2.0%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • When compared to other companies in the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry and the overall market, ELLINGTON RESIDENTIAL MTG's return on equity is below that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.

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

Seadrill Partners

Dividend Yield: 15.20%

Seadrill Partners (NYSE: SDLP) shares currently have a dividend yield of 15.20%.

Seadrill Partners LLC owns, operates, and acquires offshore drilling units. The company operates semi-submersible drilling rigs, tender rings, and drill ships. It primarily serves various oil and gas companies. The company was founded in 2012 and is headquartered in London, the United Kingdom. The company has a P/E ratio of 6.95.

The average volume for Seadrill Partners has been 572,300 shares per day over the past 30 days. Seadrill Partners has a market cap of $1.1 billion and is part of the energy industry. Shares are down 6.8% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Tuesday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates Seadrill Partners as a sell. The company's weaknesses can be seen in multiple areas, such as its generally disappointing historical performance in the stock itself, disappointing return on equity and generally high debt management risk.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Looking at the price performance of SDLP's shares over the past 12 months, there is not much good news to report: the stock is down 48.68%, and it has underformed the S&P 500 Index. In addition, the company's earnings per share are lower today than the year-earlier quarter. Despite the heavy decline in its share price, this stock is still more expensive (when compared to its current earnings) than most other companies in its industry.
  • 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. In comparison to the other companies in the Energy Equipment & Services industry and the overall market, SEADRILL PARTNERS LLC's return on equity is significantly below that of the industry average and is below that of the S&P 500.
  • Currently the debt-to-equity ratio of 1.76 is quite high overall and when compared to the industry average, suggesting that the current management of debt levels should be re-evaluated. Even though the debt-to-equity ratio is weak, SDLP's quick ratio is somewhat strong at 1.43, demonstrating the ability to handle short-term liquidity needs.
  • SEADRILL PARTNERS LLC' earnings per share from the most recent quarter came in slightly below the year earlier quarter. 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, SEADRILL PARTNERS LLC increased its bottom line by earning $1.70 versus $1.52 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($3.21 versus $1.70).
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Energy Equipment & Services industry. The net income increased by 112.6% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $25.40 million to $54.00 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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