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."

SeaWorld Entertainment

Dividend Yield: 4.60%

SeaWorld Entertainment (NYSE: SEAS) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.60%.

SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. operates as a theme park and entertainment company in the United States. The company has a P/E ratio of 44.10.

The average volume for SeaWorld Entertainment has been 1,829,100 shares per day over the past 30 days. SeaWorld Entertainment has a market cap of $1.6 billion and is part of the leisure industry. Shares are down 0.5% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates SeaWorld Entertainment as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its increase in net income, revenue growth and expanding profit margins. However, as a counter to these strengths, we find that the stock has had a generally disappointing performance in the past year.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • 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 Hotels, Restaurants & Leisure industry average. The net income increased by 12.4% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $87.18 million to $97.95 million.
  • Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 1.5%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 0.2%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • The gross profit margin for SEAWORLD ENTERTAINMENT INC is rather high; currently it is at 52.93%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 19.71% is above that of the industry average.
  • SEAWORLD ENTERTAINMENT INC has improved earnings per share by 14.0% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. Stable earnings per share over the past year indicate the company has sound management over its earnings and share float. However, the consensus estimates suggest that there will be an upward trend in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, SEAWORLD ENTERTAINMENT INC reported lower earnings of $0.58 versus $0.59 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($0.75 versus $0.58).
  • In its most recent trading session, SEAS has closed at a price level that was not very different from its closing price of one year earlier. This is probably due to its weak earnings growth as well as other mixed factors. Looking ahead, other than the push or pull of the broad market, we do not see anything in the company's numbers that may help reverse the decline experienced over the past 12 months. Despite the past decline, the stock is still selling for more than most others in its industry.

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ConocoPhillips

Dividend Yield: 5.50%

ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) shares currently have a dividend yield of 5.50%.

ConocoPhillips explores for, produces, transports, and markets crude oil, bitumen, natural gas, liquefied natural gas, and natural gas liquids worldwide.

The average volume for ConocoPhillips has been 10,153,400 shares per day over the past 30 days. ConocoPhillips has a market cap of $66.0 billion and is part of the energy industry. Shares are down 24.8% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates ConocoPhillips as a hold. Among the primary strengths of the company is its solid financial position based on a variety of debt and liquidity measures that we have evaluated. At the same time, however, we also find weaknesses including feeble growth in the company's earnings per share, deteriorating net income and disappointing return on equity.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • COP, with its decline in revenue, slightly underperformed the industry average of 37.2%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues fell by 39.9%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • Despite currently having a low debt-to-equity ratio of 0.56, it is higher than that of the industry average, inferring that management of debt levels may need to be evaluated further. Regardless of the somewhat mixed results with the debt-to-equity ratio, the company's quick ratio of 0.83 is weak.
  • The share price of CONOCOPHILLIPS has not done very well: it is down 19.47% 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.
  • The gross profit margin for CONOCOPHILLIPS is currently lower than what is desirable, coming in at 29.54%. It has decreased significantly from the same period last year. Along with this, the net profit margin of -14.74% is significantly below that of the industry average.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly decreased to $1,934.00 million or 53.73% 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.

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MarkWest Energy Partners

Dividend Yield: 8.20%

MarkWest Energy Partners (NYSE: MWE) shares currently have a dividend yield of 8.20%.

MarkWest Energy Partners, L.P. engages in the gathering, processing, and transportation of natural gas. The company is also involved in the gathering, transportation, fractionation, storage, and marketing of natural gas liquids; and the gathering and transportation of crude oil.

The average volume for MarkWest Energy Partners has been 1,380,900 shares per day over the past 30 days. MarkWest Energy Partners has a market cap of $9.0 billion and is part of the energy industry. Shares are down 34.8% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates MarkWest Energy Partners as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its expanding profit margins and notable return on equity. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including unimpressive growth in net income, weak operating cash flow and generally higher debt management risk.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The gross profit margin for MARKWEST ENERGY PARTNERS LP is rather high; currently it is at 53.40%. It has increased significantly from the same period last year. Regardless of the strong results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of -22.08% is in-line with the industry average.
  • Despite the weak revenue results, MWE has outperformed against the industry average of 37.2%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues fell by 11.3%. 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. Compared to other companies in the Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry and the overall market, MARKWEST ENERGY PARTNERS LP's return on equity significantly trails that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • Net operating cash flow has decreased to $162.40 million or 33.56% when compared to the same quarter last year. In conjunction, when comparing current results to the industry average, MARKWEST ENERGY PARTNERS LP has marginally lower results.
  • 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 Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 1230.5% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $8.98 million to -$101.49 million.

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