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."

Ameren

Dividend Yield: 4.20%

Ameren (NYSE: AEE) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.20%.

Ameren Corporation operates as a public utility holding company in the United States. The company engages in the rate-regulated electric generation, transmission, and distribution; and rate-regulated natural gas transmission and distribution businesses. The company has a P/E ratio of 15.88.

The average volume for Ameren has been 1,349,200 shares per day over the past 30 days. Ameren has a market cap of $9.4 billion and is part of the utilities industry. Shares are down 15.8% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Tuesday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates Ameren as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its growth in earnings per share, increase in net income, reasonable valuation levels, 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:
  • AMEREN CORP has improved earnings per share by 12.5% 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, AMEREN CORP increased its bottom line by earning $2.41 versus $2.10 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.55 versus $2.41).
  • 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 Multi-Utilities industry average. The net income increased by 12.5% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $96.00 million to $108.00 million.
  • Net operating cash flow has increased to $298.00 million or 24.68% when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite an increase in cash flow, AMEREN CORP's cash flow growth rate is still lower than the industry average growth rate of 38.30%.
  • Regardless of the drop in revenue, the company managed to outperform against the industry average of 11.8%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 2.4%. The declining revenue has not hurt the company's bottom line, with increasing earnings per share.

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Buckeye Partners

Dividend Yield: 6.20%

Buckeye Partners (NYSE: BPL) shares currently have a dividend yield of 6.20%.

Buckeye Partners, L.P. owns and operates liquid petroleum products pipeline systems in the United States. The company operates through four segments: Pipelines & Terminals, Global Marine Terminals, Merchant Services, and Development & Logistics. The company has a P/E ratio of 26.59.

The average volume for Buckeye Partners has been 390,900 shares per day over the past 30 days. Buckeye Partners has a market cap of $9.4 billion and is part of the energy industry. Shares are down 2.2% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Tuesday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates Buckeye Partners as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its compelling growth in net income, reasonable valuation levels, good cash flow from operations, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and growth in earnings per share. 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 Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry. The net income increased by 23.4% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $90.47 million to $111.61 million.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 599.01% to $237.62 million when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, BUCKEYE PARTNERS LP has also vastly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of -53.30%.
  • The debt-to-equity ratio is somewhat low, currently at 0.98, 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 BPL's debt-to-equity ratio is low, the quick ratio, which is currently 0.57, displays a potential problem in covering short-term cash needs.
  • BUCKEYE PARTNERS LP's earnings per share improvement from the most recent quarter was slightly positive. 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, BUCKEYE PARTNERS LP reported lower earnings of $2.79 versus $3.23 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($3.70 versus $2.79).

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Royal Dutch Shell

Dividend Yield: 6.60%

Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE: RDS.A) shares currently have a dividend yield of 6.60%.

Royal Dutch Shell plc operates as an independent oil and gas company worldwide. It operates through Upstream and Downstream segments. The company explores for and extracts crude oil, natural gas, and natural gas liquids. The company has a P/E ratio of 7.19.

The average volume for Royal Dutch Shell has been 3,097,200 shares per day over the past 30 days. Royal Dutch Shell has a market cap of $179.9 billion and is part of the energy industry. Shares are down 13.9% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Tuesday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates Royal Dutch Shell as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its attractive valuation levels, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures 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:
  • RDS.A's debt-to-equity ratio is very low at 0.26 and is currently below that of the industry average, implying that there has been very successful management of debt levels. Although the company had a strong debt-to-equity ratio, its quick ratio of 0.90 is somewhat weak and could be cause for future problems.
  • ROYAL DUTCH SHELL PLC' earnings per share from the most recent quarter came in slightly below the year earlier quarter. The company has suffered a declining pattern of earnings per share over the past two years. However, we anticipate this trend to reverse over the coming year. During the past fiscal year, ROYAL DUTCH SHELL PLC reported lower earnings of $4.70 versus $5.18 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($7.38 versus $4.70).
  • RDS.A, with its decline in revenue, slightly underperformed the industry average of 38.9%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues fell by 40.1%. The declining revenue appears to have seeped down to the company's bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • The change in net income from the same quarter one year ago has exceeded that of the S&P 500 and greatly outperformed compared to the Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry average. The net income has decreased by 1.8% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, dropping from $4,509.00 million to $4,430.00 million.

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