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."

Northern Tier Energy

Dividend Yield: 16.50%

Northern Tier Energy (NYSE: NTI) shares currently have a dividend yield of 16.50%.

Northern Tier Energy LP, an independent downstream energy company, engages in refining, retail, and pipeline operations in the United States. It operates through two segments, Refining and Retail. The company has a P/E ratio of 8.61.

The average volume for Northern Tier Energy has been 439,400 shares per day over the past 30 days. Northern Tier Energy has a market cap of $2.4 billion and is part of the energy industry. Shares are up 14.5% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates Northern Tier Energy as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income, notable return on equity, attractive valuation levels 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:
  • NORTHERN TIER ENERGY LP 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 year. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, NORTHERN TIER ENERGY LP increased its bottom line by earning $2.60 versus $2.52 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($3.79 versus $2.60).
  • 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 55.5% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $71.50 million to $111.20 million.
  • 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 Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry and the overall market, NORTHERN TIER ENERGY 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 0.77, and is less than that of the industry average, implying that there has been a relatively successful effort in the management of debt levels. Although the company had a strong debt-to-equity ratio, its quick ratio of 0.95 is somewhat weak and could be cause for future problems.

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Valley National Bancorp

Dividend Yield: 4.30%

Valley National Bancorp (NYSE: VLY) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.30%.

Valley National Bancorp operates as the holding company for the Valley National Bank that provides commercial, retail, insurance, and wealth management financial services products. The company operates through Commercial Lending, Consumer Lending, and Investment Management segments. The company has a P/E ratio of 19.81.

The average volume for Valley National Bancorp has been 1,431,200 shares per day over the past 30 days. Valley National Bancorp has a market cap of $2.4 billion and is part of the banking industry. Shares are up 6.5% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

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

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • VLY's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 0.9%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 9.9%. 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 53.03% to $53.87 million when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, VALLEY NATIONAL BANCORP has also vastly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of -37.16%.
  • The gross profit margin for VALLEY NATIONAL BANCORP is currently very high, coming in at 79.49%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Despite the strong results of the gross profit margin, VLY's net profit margin of 16.00% significantly trails the industry average.
  • VALLEY NATIONAL BANCORP's earnings per share declined by 23.5% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. 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, VALLEY NATIONAL BANCORP reported lower earnings of $0.57 versus $0.67 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($0.58 versus $0.57).
  • After a year of stock price fluctuations, the net result is that VLY's price has not changed very much. Although its weak earnings growth may have played a role in this flat result, don't lose sight of the fact that the performance of the overall market, as measured by the S&P 500 Index, was essentially similar. The stock's price rise over the last year has driven it to a level which is somewhat expensive compared to the rest of its industry. We feel, however, that other strengths this company displays justify these higher price levels.

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Las Vegas Sands

Dividend Yield: 4.70%

Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.70%.

Las Vegas Sands Corp. develops, owns, and operates integrated resorts in Asia and the United States. The company owns and operates The Venetian Macao Resort Hotel, Sands Cotai Central, the Four Seasons Hotel Macao, the Plaza Casino, and the Sands Macao in Macau, the People's Republic of China. The company has a P/E ratio of 17.28.

The average volume for Las Vegas Sands has been 5,654,100 shares per day over the past 30 days. Las Vegas Sands has a market cap of $44.3 billion and is part of the leisure industry. Shares are down 6.4% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates Las Vegas Sands as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its notable return on equity and expanding profit margins. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • 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. When compared to other companies in the Hotels, Restaurants & Leisure industry and the overall market, LAS VEGAS SANDS CORP's return on equity exceeds that of the industry average and significantly exceeds that of the S&P 500.
  • 47.43% is the gross profit margin for LAS VEGAS SANDS CORP which we consider to be strong. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 16.99% is above that of the industry average.
  • LVS, with its decline in revenue, underperformed when compared the industry average of 7.5%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues fell by 24.9%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • LAS VEGAS SANDS CORP's earnings per share declined by 32.6% 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, LAS VEGAS SANDS CORP increased its bottom line by earning $3.51 versus $2.79 in the prior year. For the next year, the market is expecting a contraction of 24.0% in earnings ($2.67 versus $3.51).
  • The debt-to-equity ratio of 1.29 is relatively high when compared with the industry average, suggesting a need for better debt level management. Regardless of the company's weak debt-to-equity ratio, LVS has managed to keep a strong quick ratio of 1.57, which demonstrates the ability to cover short-term cash needs.

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