What To Hold: 3 Hold-Rated Dividend Stocks ARLP, NRP, NMM

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."

Alliance Resource Partners

Dividend Yield: 10.90%

Alliance Resource Partners (NASDAQ: ARLP) shares currently have a dividend yield of 10.90%.

Alliance Resource Partners, L.P. produces and markets coal primarily to utilities and industrial users in the United States. It operates through the Illinois Basin, Appalachia, White Oak, and Other and Corporate segments. The company has a P/E ratio of 5.31.

The average volume for Alliance Resource Partners has been 270,000 shares per day over the past 30 days. Alliance Resource Partners has a market cap of $1.8 billion and is part of the metals & mining industry. Shares are down 43.4% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Monday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates Alliance Resource Partners as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, notable return on equity and attractive valuation levels. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself and feeble growth in the company's earnings per share.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The revenue growth greatly exceeded the industry average of 38.7%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 3.4%. 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 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 Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry and the overall market, ALLIANCE RESOURCE PTNRS -LP's return on equity significantly exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • The debt-to-equity ratio is somewhat low, currently at 0.83, and is less than that of the industry average, implying that there has been a relatively successful effort in the management of debt levels. Despite the fact that ARLP's debt-to-equity ratio is low, the quick ratio, which is currently 0.51, displays a potential problem in covering short-term cash needs.
  • ALLIANCE RESOURCE PTNRS -LP's earnings per share declined by 16.4% in the most recent quarter compared to 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, ALLIANCE RESOURCE PTNRS -LP increased its bottom line by earning $4.78 versus $3.22 in the prior year. For the next year, the market is expecting a contraction of 17.4% in earnings ($3.95 versus $4.78).
  • Looking at the price performance of ARLP's shares over the past 12 months, there is not much good news to report: the stock is down 47.87%, and it has underformed the S&P 500 Index. In addition, the company's earnings per share are lower today than 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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