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."

Valley National Bancorp

Dividend Yield: 4.40%

Valley National Bancorp (NYSE: VLY) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.40%.

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 19.42.

The average volume for Valley National Bancorp has been 1,416,900 shares per day over the past 30 days. Valley National Bancorp has a market cap of $2.3 billion and is part of the banking industry. Shares are up 2.2% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

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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, expanding profit margins, good cash flow from operations and solid stock price performance. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • VLY's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 2.0%. 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.
  • 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.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 53.03% to $53.87 million when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite an increase in cash flow of 53.03%, VALLEY NATIONAL BANCORP is still growing at a significantly lower rate than the industry average of 116.49%.
  • 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).
  • Compared to where it was a year ago today, the stock is now trading at a higher level, regardless of the company's weak earnings results. 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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Navient

Dividend Yield: 4.10%

Navient (NASDAQ: NAVI) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.10%.

Navient Corporation provides financial products and services in the United States. The company operates in four segments: FFELP Loans, Private Education Loans, Business Services, and Other. The company has a P/E ratio of 5.86.

The average volume for Navient has been 2,361,400 shares per day over the past 30 days. Navient has a market cap of $6.1 billion and is part of the financial services industry. Shares are down 28.1% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates Navient as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its notable return on equity, attractive valuation levels and expanding profit margins. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had somewhat weak growth in earnings per share.

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 Consumer Finance industry and the overall market, NAVIENT CORP's return on equity exceeds that of the industry average and significantly exceeds that of the S&P 500.
  • The gross profit margin for NAVIENT CORP is rather high; currently it is at 66.72%. Regardless of NAVI's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of 14.18% trails the industry average.
  • Regardless of the drop in revenue, the company managed to outperform against the industry average of 11.2%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 7.6%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • The share price of NAVIENT CORP has not done very well: it is down 8.85% and has underperformed the S&P 500, in part reflecting the company's sharply declining earnings per share when compared to the year-earlier quarter. Looking ahead, although the push and pull of the overall market trend could certainly make a critical difference, we do not see any strong reason stemming from the company's fundamentals that would cause a continuation of last year's decline. In fact, the stock is now selling for less than others in its industry in relation to its current earnings.

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Energy Transfer Partners

Dividend Yield: 7.90%

Energy Transfer Partners (NYSE: ETP) shares currently have a dividend yield of 7.90%.

Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. engages in the natural gas midstream, and intrastate transportation and storage businesses in the United States. The company has a P/E ratio of 80.52.

The average volume for Energy Transfer Partners has been 2,406,800 shares per day over the past 30 days. Energy Transfer Partners has a market cap of $26.1 billion and is part of the energy industry. Shares are down 20.9% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates Energy Transfer Partners as a buy. Among the primary strengths of the company is its respectable return on equity which we feel is likely to continue. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Despite the weak revenue results, ETP has outperformed against the industry average of 38.8%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues fell by 22.1%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing 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. In comparison to the other companies in the Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry and the overall market, ENERGY TRANSFER PARTNERS -LP's return on equity is significantly below that of the industry average and is below that of the S&P 500.
  • ENERGY TRANSFER PARTNERS -LP 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, ENERGY TRANSFER PARTNERS -LP turned its bottom line around by earning $1.65 versus -$0.24 in the prior year. For the next year, the market is expecting a contraction of 19.4% in earnings ($1.33 versus $1.65).
  • The gross profit margin for ENERGY TRANSFER PARTNERS -LP is currently extremely low, coming in at 10.55%. Regardless of ETP's low profit margin, it has managed to increase from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of 2.94% trails the industry average.
  • Net operating cash flow has decreased to $506.00 million or 25.80% when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite a decrease in cash flow ENERGY TRANSFER PARTNERS -LP is still fairing well by exceeding its industry average cash flow growth rate of -53.49%.

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