Buy These Top 3 Buy-Rated Dividend Stocks Today: ED, GM, ARI

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."

Consolidated Edison

Dividend Yield: 4.40%

Consolidated Edison (NYSE: ED) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.40%.

Consolidated Edison, Inc., through its subsidiaries, engages in regulated electric, gas, and steam delivery businesses in the United States. The company has a P/E ratio of 15.96.

The average volume for Consolidated Edison has been 2,194,800 shares per day over the past 30 days. Consolidated Edison has a market cap of $17.5 billion and is part of the utilities industry. Shares are down 11.2% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates Consolidated Edison as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its increase in stock price during the past year, increase in net income, attractive valuation levels, good cash flow from operations and growth in earnings per share. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had somewhat disappointing return on equity.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The stock has risen over the past year as investors have generally rewarded the company for its earnings growth and other positive factors like the ones we have cited in this report. Turning our attention to the future direction of the stock, it goes without saying that even the best stocks can fall in an overall down market. However, in any other environment, this stock still has good upside potential despite the fact that it has already risen in the past year.
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Multi-Utilities industry average. The net income increased by 2.5% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $361.00 million to $370.00 million.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 149.55% to $559.00 million when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, CONSOLIDATED EDISON INC has also vastly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of 38.77%.
  • CONSOLIDATED EDISON INC's earnings per share improvement from the most recent quarter was slightly positive. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past year. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, CONSOLIDATED EDISON INC increased its bottom line by earning $3.71 versus $3.61 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($3.97 versus $3.71).

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General Motors

Dividend Yield: 4.10%

General Motors (NYSE: GM) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.10%.

General Motors Company designs, builds, and sells cars, crossovers, trucks, and automobile parts worldwide. It operates through GM North America, GM Europe, GM International Operations, GM South America, and GM Financial segments. The company has a P/E ratio of 16.53.

The average volume for General Motors has been 15,051,800 shares per day over the past 30 days. General Motors has a market cap of $57.1 billion and is part of the automotive industry. Shares are up 0.6% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates General Motors as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its increase in net income, impressive record of earnings per share growth, notable return on equity and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Automobiles industry. The net income increased by 343.7% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $213.00 million to $945.00 million.
  • GENERAL MOTORS CO 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, GENERAL MOTORS CO reported lower earnings of $1.64 versus $2.35 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($4.48 versus $1.64).
  • 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. Compared to other companies in the Automobiles industry and the overall market on the basis of return on equity, GENERAL MOTORS CO has outperformed in comparison with the industry average, but has underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500.
  • Regardless of the drop in revenue, the company managed to outperform against the industry average of 7.3%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 4.5%. The declining revenue has not hurt the company's bottom line, with increasing earnings per share.
  • Even though the current debt-to-equity ratio is 1.33, it is still below the industry average, suggesting that this level of debt is acceptable within the Automobiles industry. Regardless of the somewhat mixed results with the debt-to-equity ratio, the company's quick ratio of 0.79 is weak.

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Apollo Commercial Real Estate Finance

Dividend Yield: 10.30%

Apollo Commercial Real Estate Finance (NYSE: ARI) shares currently have a dividend yield of 10.30%.

Apollo Commercial Real Estate Finance, Inc. The company has a P/E ratio of 9.70.

The average volume for Apollo Commercial Real Estate Finance has been 582,800 shares per day over the past 30 days. Apollo Commercial Real Estate Finance has a market cap of $1.0 billion and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are up 4.2% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates Apollo Commercial Real Estate Finance as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, growth in earnings per share, compelling growth in net income, attractive valuation levels and expanding profit margins. Although the company may harbor some minor weaknesses, we feel they are unlikely to have a significant impact on results.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • ARI's very impressive revenue growth greatly exceeded the industry average of 8.5%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues leaped by 89.3%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.
  • APOLLO COMMERCIAL RE FIN INC has improved earnings per share by 11.9% 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. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, APOLLO COMMERCIAL RE FIN INC increased its bottom line by earning $1.73 versus $1.26 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.85 versus $1.73).
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry. The net income increased by 45.1% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $17.58 million to $25.51 million.
  • The gross profit margin for APOLLO COMMERCIAL RE FIN INC is currently very high, coming in at 85.78%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 63.70% significantly outperformed against the industry average.

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