3 Buy-Rated Dividend Stocks Taking The Lead: LPT, FE, SE

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 "Buy."

Liberty Property

Dividend Yield: 5.50%

Liberty Property (NYSE: LPT) shares currently have a dividend yield of 5.50%.

Liberty Property Trust is a publicly owned real estate investment holding trust. Through its subsidiary, it provides leasing, property management, development, acquisition, and other tenant-related services for a portfolio of industrial and office properties. The company has a P/E ratio of 28.85.

The average volume for Liberty Property has been 871,300 shares per day over the past 30 days. Liberty Property has a market cap of $5.1 billion and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are down 8.8% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates Liberty Property as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, reasonable valuation levels, impressive record of earnings per share growth and notable return on equity. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 8.5%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 7.8%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.
  • LIBERTY PROPERTY TRUST has improved earnings per share by 23.5% 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, LIBERTY PROPERTY TRUST increased its bottom line by earning $1.15 versus $0.70 in the prior year. For the next year, the market is expecting a contraction of 12.2% in earnings ($1.01 versus $1.15).
  • 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. When compared to other companies in the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry and the overall market, LIBERTY PROPERTY TRUST's return on equity is below that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • LPT has underperformed the S&P 500 Index, declining 9.42% from its price level of one year ago. Looking ahead, although the push and pull of the overall market trend could certainly make a critical difference, we do not see any strong reason stemming from the company's fundamentals that would cause a continuation of last year's decline. In fact, the stock is now selling for less than others in its industry in relation to its current earnings.

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