3 Buy-Rated Dividend Stocks: VZ, VTR, CXW

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."

Verizon Communications

Dividend Yield: 4.40%

Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.40%.

Verizon Communications Inc., through its subsidiaries, provides communications, information, and entertainment products and services to consumers, businesses, and governmental agencies worldwide. The company has a P/E ratio of 21.74.

The average volume for Verizon Communications has been 14,727,000 shares per day over the past 30 days. Verizon Communications has a market cap of $203.1 billion and is part of the telecommunications industry. Shares are up 6% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Monday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates Verizon Communications as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, increase in net income, good cash flow from operations, expanding profit margins and increase in stock price during the past year. 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:
  • VZ's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 3.4%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 3.8%. 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 company, on the basis of net income growth from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly outperformed against the S&P 500 and exceeded that of the Diversified Telecommunication Services industry average. The net income increased by 6.9% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $3,947.00 million to $4,219.00 million.
  • Net operating cash flow has increased to $10,169.00 million or 42.44% when compared to the same quarter last year. The firm also exceeded the industry average cash flow growth rate of 8.75%.
  • The gross profit margin for VERIZON COMMUNICATIONS INC is rather high; currently it is at 62.18%. Regardless of VZ's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, VZ's net profit margin of 13.19% compares favorably to the industry average.
  • VERIZON COMMUNICATIONS INC's earnings per share declined by 11.3% 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, VERIZON COMMUNICATIONS INC reported lower earnings of $2.51 versus $4.00 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($3.85 versus $2.51).

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