3 Buy-Rated Dividend Stocks: LAMR, BCE, WMB

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."

Lamar Advertising

Dividend Yield: 4.80%

Lamar Advertising (NASDAQ: LAMR) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.80%.

Lamar Advertising Company is a publicly owned equity real estate investment trust. The firm primarily engages in selling advertising space on billboards, buses, shelters, benches, and logo plates. Lamar Advertising Company was founded in 1902 and is headquartered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The company has a P/E ratio of 18.55.

The average volume for Lamar Advertising has been 600,600 shares per day over the past 30 days. Lamar Advertising has a market cap of $4.7 billion and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are up 9.1% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates Lamar Advertising as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its solid stock price performance, impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income, revenue growth and notable return on equity. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Looking at where the stock is today compared to one year ago, we find that it is not only higher, but it has also clearly outperformed the rise in the S&P 500 over the same period. Although other factors naturally played a role, the company's strong earnings growth was key. 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.
  • LAMAR ADVERTISING CO reported significant earnings per share improvement 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, LAMAR ADVERTISING CO increased its bottom line by earning $2.66 versus $0.42 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.75 versus $2.66).
  • 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 941.8% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from -$4.84 million to $40.72 million.
  • Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 8.5%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 6.2%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • 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. Compared to other companies in the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry and the overall market, LAMAR ADVERTISING CO's return on equity significantly exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.

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BCE

Dividend Yield: 4.80%

BCE (NYSE: BCE) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.80%.

BCE Inc., a telecommunications and media company, provides wireless, wireline, Internet, and television (TV) services to residential, business, and wholesale customers in Canada. The company operates through Bell Wireless, Bell Wireline, and Bell Media segments. The company has a P/E ratio of 19.91.

The average volume for BCE has been 832,700 shares per day over the past 30 days. BCE has a market cap of $37.2 billion and is part of the telecommunications industry. Shares are down 4% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates BCE as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, expanding profit margins, good cash flow from operations and notable return on equity. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • BCE's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 3.0%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 2.8%. 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.
  • 48.55% is the gross profit margin for BCE INC which we consider to be strong. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 10.87% is above that of the industry average.
  • Net operating cash flow has slightly increased to $1,045.00 million or 6.41% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, BCE INC has also modestly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of -1.19%.
  • 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 Diversified Telecommunication Services industry and the overall market on the basis of return on equity, BCE INC has underperformed in comparison with the industry average, but has exceeded that of the S&P 500.
  • BCE INC's earnings per share declined by 20.3% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. This company has not demonstrated a clear trend in earnings over the past 2 years, making it difficult to accurately predict earnings for the coming year. During the past fiscal year, BCE INC increased its bottom line by earning $2.97 versus $2.54 in the prior year.

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Williams Companies

Dividend Yield: 4.30%

Williams Companies (NYSE: WMB) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.30%.

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 80.07.

The average volume for Williams Companies has been 9,516,100 shares per day over the past 30 days. Williams Companies has a market cap of $41.4 billion and is part of the energy industry. Shares are up 27.1% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

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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 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:
  • 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 -53.17%.
  • 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.
  • Despite the weak revenue results, WMB has significantly outperformed against the industry average of 38.7%. 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.
  • WILLIAMS COS 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, WILLIAMS COS INC increased its bottom line by earning $2.82 versus $0.64 in the prior year. For the next year, the market is expecting a contraction of 66.3% in earnings ($0.95 versus $2.82).

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