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 "Sell."

ZAIS Financial

Dividend Yield: 10.40%

ZAIS Financial (NYSE: ZFC) shares currently have a dividend yield of 10.40%.

Zais Financial Corp. originates, acquires, finances, sells, services, and manages residential mortgage loans in the United States. It originates mortgage loans through its GMFS mortgage banking platform; and acquires performing, re-performing, and newly originated loans through other channels. The company has a P/E ratio of 14.25.

The average volume for ZAIS Financial has been 18,500 shares per day over the past 30 days. ZAIS Financial has a market cap of $122.7 million and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are down 9.9% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Monday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates ZAIS Financial as a sell. The company's weaknesses can be seen in multiple areas, such as its unimpressive growth in net income, weak operating cash flow, generally disappointing historical performance in the stock itself and feeble growth in its earnings per share.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The company, on the basis of change in net income from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500 and the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 83.2% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $2.22 million to $0.37 million.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly decreased to -$30.09 million or 1904.73% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, when comparing to the industry average, the firm's growth rate is much lower.
  • The share price of ZAIS FINANCIAL CORP has not done very well: it is down 11.48% 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. The fact that the stock is now selling for less than others in its industry in relation to its current earnings is not reason enough to justify a buy rating at this time.
  • ZAIS FINANCIAL CORP 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, ZAIS FINANCIAL CORP increased its bottom line by earning $2.91 versus $0.81 in the prior year. For the next year, the market is expecting a contraction of 41.8% in earnings ($1.70 versus $2.91).
  • Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 9.8%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 2.0%. 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.

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Five Oaks Investment

Dividend Yield: 17.90%

Five Oaks Investment (NYSE: OAKS) shares currently have a dividend yield of 17.90%.

Five Oaks Investment Corp. focuses on investing, financing, and managing a portfolio of mortgage-backed securities (MBS). It invests in agency and non-agency residential MBS, multi-family MBS, residential mortgage loans, mortgage servicing rights, and other mortgage-related investments.

The average volume for Five Oaks Investment has been 130,800 shares per day over the past 30 days. Five Oaks Investment has a market cap of $98.8 million and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are down 38.9% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Monday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates Five Oaks Investment as a sell. The company's weaknesses can be seen in multiple areas, such as its unimpressive growth in net income, disappointing return on equity, weak operating cash flow, generally disappointing historical performance in the stock itself and feeble growth in its earnings per share.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The company, on the basis of change in net income from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500 and the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 101.9% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from -$2.54 million to -$5.13 million.
  • The company's current return on equity has slightly decreased from the same quarter one year prior. This implies a minor weakness in the organization. Compared to other companies in the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry and the overall market, FIVE OAKS INVESTMENT CORP's return on equity significantly trails that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • Net operating cash flow has decreased to $2.25 million or 20.92% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, when comparing the cash generation rate to the industry average, the firm's growth is significantly lower.
  • Looking at the price performance of OAKS's shares over the past 12 months, there is not much good news to report: the stock is down 39.11%, 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.
  • FIVE OAKS INVESTMENT CORP's earnings per share declined by 20.6% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has reported a trend of declining earnings per share over the past year. However, the consensus estimate suggests that this trend should reverse in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, FIVE OAKS INVESTMENT CORP swung to a loss, reporting -$0.03 versus $0.42 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.25 versus -$0.03).

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Azure Midstream Partners

Dividend Yield: 14.60%

Azure Midstream Partners (NYSE: AZUR) shares currently have a dividend yield of 14.60%.

Azure Midstream Partners, LP acquires, owns, develops, and operates midstream energy assets in the United States. It operates through two segments, Gathering and Processing, and Logistics. The company has a P/E ratio of 7.56.

The average volume for Azure Midstream Partners has been 137,700 shares per day over the past 30 days. Azure Midstream Partners has a market cap of $129.6 million and is part of the energy industry. Shares are down 41.4% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Monday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates Azure Midstream Partners as a sell. The company's weaknesses can be seen in multiple areas, such as its deteriorating net income, generally disappointing historical performance in the stock itself and feeble growth in its earnings per share.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The company, on the basis of change in net income from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly underperformed against the S&P 500 and did not exceed that of the Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 73.2% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $6.34 million to $1.70 million.
  • Despite any intermediate fluctuations, we have only bad news to report on this stock's performance over the last year: it has tumbled by 52.45%, worse than the S&P 500's performance. Consistent with the plunge in the stock price, the company's earnings per share are down 47.22% compared to the year-earlier quarter. Turning toward the future, the fact that the stock has come down in price over the past year should not necessarily be interpreted as a negative; it could be one of the factors that may help make the stock attractive down the road. Right now, however, we believe that it is too soon to buy.
  • AZURE MIDSTREAM PARTNERS LP's earnings per share declined by 47.2% 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, AZURE MIDSTREAM PARTNERS LP increased its bottom line by earning $0.87 versus $0.36 in the prior year. For the next year, the market is expecting a contraction of 65.5% in earnings ($0.30 versus $0.87).
  • Despite the weak revenue results, AZUR has significantly outperformed against the industry average of 34.4%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 4.4%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • 44.54% is the gross profit margin for AZURE MIDSTREAM PARTNERS LP which we consider to be strong. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 7.92% is above that of the industry average.

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