3 Hold-Rated Dividend Stocks: SLRC, EFC, SXCP

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."

Solar Capital

Dividend Yield: 8.50%

Solar Capital (NASDAQ: SLRC) shares currently have a dividend yield of 8.50%.

Solar Capital Ltd. is a business development company specializing in investments in leveraged middle market companies. The company has a P/E ratio of 17.40.

The average volume for Solar Capital has been 153,400 shares per day over the past 30 days. Solar Capital has a market cap of $797.9 million and is part of the financial services industry. Shares are up 4.3% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates Solar Capital as a hold. Among the primary strengths of the company is its expanding profit margins over time. At the same time, however, we also find weaknesses including a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself, deteriorating net income and disappointing return on equity.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The gross profit margin for SOLAR CAPITAL LTD is currently very high, coming in at 70.20%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 42.52% significantly outperformed against the industry average.
  • SLRC, with its decline in revenue, underperformed when compared the industry average of 5.7%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues fell by 21.4%. The declining revenue appears to have seeped down to the company's bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • SOLAR CAPITAL LTD's earnings per share declined by 16.1% 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, SOLAR CAPITAL LTD reported lower earnings of $1.12 versus $1.70 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.53 versus $1.12).
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly decreased to -$23.67 million or 123.89% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, when comparing to the industry average, the firm's growth rate is much lower.
  • Reflecting the weaknesses we have cited, including the decline in the company's earnings per share, SLRC has underperformed the S&P 500 Index, declining 8.84% 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: 13.50%

Ellington Financial (NYSE: EFC) shares currently have a dividend yield of 13.50%.

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 10.83.

The average volume for Ellington Financial has been 113,500 shares per day over the past 30 days. Ellington Financial has a market cap of $644.9 million and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are down 3.2% 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, good cash flow from operations 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 5.7%. 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.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 409.73% to $338.15 million when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, ELLINGTON FINANCIAL LLC has also vastly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of 191.30%.
  • 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.
  • 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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SunCoke Energy Partners

Dividend Yield: 12.30%

SunCoke Energy Partners (NYSE: SXCP) shares currently have a dividend yield of 12.30%.

SunCoke Energy Partners, L.P., a master limited partnership, manufactures and sells coke used in the blast furnace production of steel in the United States. The company operates through Domestic Coke and Coke Logistics segments. The company has a P/E ratio of 12.76.

The average volume for SunCoke Energy Partners has been 185,500 shares per day over the past 30 days. SunCoke Energy Partners has a market cap of $439.2 million and is part of the metals & mining industry. Shares are down 33.7% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates SunCoke Energy Partners as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its attractive valuation levels, good cash flow from operations and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. 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 poor profit margins.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 103.42% to $29.70 million when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, SUNCOKE ENERGY PARTNERS LP has also vastly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of 11.81%.
  • SXCP's debt-to-equity ratio of 0.96 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. Despite the fact that SXCP's debt-to-equity ratio is mixed in its results, the company's quick ratio of 1.60 is high and demonstrates strong liquidity.
  • 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. Compared to other companies in the Metals & Mining industry and the overall market on the basis of return on equity, SUNCOKE ENERGY PARTNERS LP has outperformed in comparison with the industry average, but has underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500.
  • Despite any intermediate fluctuations, we have only bad news to report on this stock's performance over the last year: it has tumbled by 38.40%, worse than the S&P 500's performance. Consistent with the plunge in the stock price, the company's earnings per share are down 29.26% compared to the year-earlier quarter. Naturally, the overall market trend is bound to be a significant factor. However, in one sense, the stock's sharp decline last year is a positive for future investors, making it cheaper (in proportion to its earnings over the past year) than most other stocks in its industry. But due to other concerns, we feel the stock is still not a good buy right now.

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