3 Buy-Rated Dividend Stocks Leading The Pack: EDR, WMB, ENLK

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."

Education Realty

Dividend Yield: 4.40%

Education Realty (NYSE: EDR) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.40%.

EdR is a real estate investment trust. The firm invests in the real estate markets of United States. It invests collegiate housing communities. The firm develops, acquires, owns, and manages collegiate housing communities located near university campuses. The company has a P/E ratio of 35.23.

The average volume for Education Realty has been 358,300 shares per day over the past 30 days. Education Realty has a market cap of $1.6 billion and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are down 11.4% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates Education Realty as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, reasonable valuation levels, increase in stock price during the past year 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:
  • EDR's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 8.5%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 17.2%. 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.
  • Compared to where it was 12 months ago, the stock is up, but it has so far lagged the appreciation in the S&P 500. 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.
  • 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, EDUCATION REALTY TRUST INC's return on equity is below that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • EDUCATION REALTY TRUST 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. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. We feel it is likely to report a decline in earnings in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, EDUCATION REALTY TRUST INC increased its bottom line by earning $0.98 versus $0.15 in the prior year. For the next year, the market is expecting a contraction of 66.3% in earnings ($0.33 versus $0.98).

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Williams Companies

Dividend Yield: 4.40%

Williams Companies (NYSE: WMB) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.40%.

The Williams Companies, Inc. operates as an energy infrastructure company primarily in the United States. The company operates in three segments: Williams Partners, Access Midstream, and Williams NGL & Petchem Services. The company has a P/E ratio of 77.12.

The average volume for Williams Companies has been 6,048,300 shares per day over the past 30 days. Williams Companies has a market cap of $39.9 billion and is part of the energy industry. Shares are up 11.5% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates Williams Companies as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its good cash flow from operations, expanding profit margins, notable return on equity and solid stock price performance. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally high debt management risk by most measures that we evaluated.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 50.00% to $669.00 million when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, WILLIAMS COS INC has also vastly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of -51.31%.
  • The gross profit margin for WILLIAMS COS INC is rather high; currently it is at 50.52%. It has increased significantly from the same period last year. Regardless of the strong results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of 4.07% trails the industry average.
  • 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. In comparison to other companies in the Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry and the overall market on the basis of return on equity, WILLIAMS COS INC has underperformed in comparison with the industry average, but has greatly exceeded that of the S&P 500.
  • 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. 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.
  • Despite the weak revenue results, WMB has significantly outperformed against the industry average of 37.8%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 1.9%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.

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EnLink Midstream Partners

Dividend Yield: 6.10%

EnLink Midstream Partners (NYSE: ENLK) shares currently have a dividend yield of 6.10%.

Enlink Midstream Partners, LP, through its subsidiary, EnLink Midstream Operating, LP, provides midstream energy services. The company has a P/E ratio of 41.92.

The average volume for EnLink Midstream Partners has been 1,054,600 shares per day over the past 30 days. EnLink Midstream Partners has a market cap of $6.2 billion and is part of the energy industry. Shares are down 14.8% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates EnLink Midstream Partners as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, good cash flow from operations and compelling growth in net income. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had somewhat disappointing return on equity.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • ENLK's very impressive revenue growth greatly exceeded the industry average of 37.8%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues leaped by 65.1%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • The current debt-to-equity ratio, 0.42, is low and is below the industry average, implying that there has been successful management of debt levels. Along with the favorable debt-to-equity ratio, the company maintains an adequate quick ratio of 1.09, which illustrates the ability to avoid short-term cash problems.
  • 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 124.3% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $23.00 million to $51.60 million.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 1316.30% to $92.40 million when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, ENLINK MIDSTREAM PARTNERS LP has also vastly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of -51.31%.
  • ENLINK MIDSTREAM PARTNERS LP has shown improvement in its earnings for its most recently reported quarter when compared with the same quarter a year earlier. 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, ENLINK MIDSTREAM PARTNERS LP increased its bottom line by earning $0.60 versus $0.00 in the prior year. For the next year, the market is expecting a contraction of 10.5% in earnings ($0.54 versus $0.60).

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