3 Hold-Rated Dividend Stocks: NMM, SSW, EFC

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 "Hold."

Navios Maritime Partners L.P

Dividend Yield: 15.20%

Navios Maritime Partners L.P (NYSE: NMM) shares currently have a dividend yield of 15.20%.

Navios Maritime Partners L.P. owns and operates dry cargo vessels in Europe, Asia, North America, and Australia. The company has a P/E ratio of 13.08.

The average volume for Navios Maritime Partners L.P has been 781,500 shares per day over the past 30 days. Navios Maritime Partners L.P has a market cap of $967.0 million and is part of the transportation industry. Shares are up 14.4% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates Navios Maritime Partners L.P as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, expanding profit margins and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including unimpressive growth in net income, weak operating cash flow and a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • NMM's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 1.8%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 0.8%. 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 NAVIOS MARITIME PARTNERS LP is currently very high, coming in at 92.94%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 19.15% significantly outperformed against the industry average.
  • NMM's debt-to-equity ratio of 0.67 is somewhat low overall, but it is high when compared to the industry average, implying that the management of the debt levels should be evaluated further. Even though the debt-to-equity ratio shows mixed results, the company's quick ratio of 3.75 is very high and demonstrates very strong liquidity.
  • Despite any intermediate fluctuations, we have only bad news to report on this stock's performance over the last year: it has tumbled by 36.12%, worse than the S&P 500's performance. Consistent with the plunge in the stock price, the company's earnings per share are down 45.83% compared to the year-earlier quarter. Turning toward the future, the fact that the stock has come down in price over the past year should not necessarily be interpreted as a negative; it could be one of the factors that may help make the stock attractive down the road. Right now, however, we believe that it is too soon to buy.
  • 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 Marine industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 40.7% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $18.36 million to $10.88 million.

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Seaspan

Dividend Yield: 7.60%

Seaspan (NYSE: SSW) shares currently have a dividend yield of 7.60%.

Seaspan Corporation operates as an independent charter owner and manager of containerships in Hong Kong. The company charters its containerships pursuant to long-term, fixed-rate time charters to various container liner companies. As of February 28, 2015, it operated a fleet of 77 vessels. The company has a P/E ratio of 15.45.

The average volume for Seaspan has been 180,100 shares per day over the past 30 days. Seaspan has a market cap of $1.9 billion and is part of the transportation industry. Shares are up 9.8% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

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

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 1.8%. 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.
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Marine industry. The net income increased by 18.3% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $18.03 million to $21.33 million.
  • SEASPAN CORP 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, SEASPAN CORP reported lower earnings of $0.78 versus $2.94 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.10 versus $0.78).
  • 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. When compared to other companies in the Marine industry and the overall market, SEASPAN CORP's return on equity is below that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • SSW has underperformed the S&P 500 Index, declining 9.52% from its price level of one year ago. Looking ahead, other than the push or pull of the broad market, we do not see anything in the company's numbers that may help reverse the decline experienced over the past 12 months. Despite the past decline, the stock is still selling for more than most others in its industry.

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Ellington Financial

Dividend Yield: 13.10%

Ellington Financial (NYSE: EFC) shares currently have a dividend yield of 13.10%.

Ellington Financial LLC, a specialty finance company, acquires and manages mortgage-related assets, including residential mortgage backed securities backed by prime jumbo, Alt-A, manufactured housing and subprime residential mortgage loans, and residential mortgage-backed securities. The company has a P/E ratio of 7.70.

The average volume for Ellington Financial has been 139,500 shares per day over the past 30 days. Ellington Financial has a market cap of $664.6 million and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are up 1.4% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates Ellington Financial as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth and expanding profit margins. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including deteriorating net income, disappointing return on equity and a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 5.4%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 24.7%. 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.
  • The gross profit margin for ELLINGTON FINANCIAL LLC is currently very high, coming in at 76.30%. Regardless of EFC's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, EFC's net profit margin of 71.85% significantly outperformed against the industry.
  • ELLINGTON FINANCIAL LLC's earnings per share declined by 35.2% 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, ELLINGTON FINANCIAL LLC reported lower earnings of $2.23 versus $3.46 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.49 versus $2.23).
  • The company, on the basis of change in net income from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly underperformed compared to the Capital Markets industry average, but is greater than that of the S&P 500. The net income has decreased by 14.9% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, dropping from $22.64 million to $19.26 million.
  • 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. When compared to other companies in the Capital Markets industry and the overall market, ELLINGTON FINANCIAL LLC's return on equity is below that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.

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