3 Hold-Rated Dividend Stocks: ATAX, ARLP, CMRE

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."

America First Multifamily Investors

Dividend Yield: 9.00%

America First Multifamily Investors (NASDAQ: ATAX) shares currently have a dividend yield of 9.00%.

America First Multifamily Investors, L.P. acquires, holds, sells, and deals in a portfolio of mortgage revenue bonds that have been issued to provide construction or permanent financing for multifamily and student housing, and commercial properties. The company has a P/E ratio of 16.41.

The average volume for America First Multifamily Investors has been 133,200 shares per day over the past 30 days. America First Multifamily Investors has a market cap of $336.2 million and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are up 10.7% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates America First Multifamily Investors as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, expanding profit margins and good cash flow from operations. 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 revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 9.4%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 19.4%. This growth in revenue does not appear to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, displaying stagnant earnings per share.
  • The gross profit margin for AMERICA FIRST MULTIFAMILY-LP is currently very high, coming in at 82.34%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Regardless of the strong results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of 16.96% trails the industry average.
  • Net operating cash flow has increased to $4.87 million or 16.63% when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite an increase in cash flow of 16.63%, AMERICA FIRST MULTIFAMILY-LP is still growing at a significantly lower rate than the industry average of 126.87%.
  • After a year of stock price fluctuations, the net result is that ATAX'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. 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.
  • 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 Thrifts & Mortgage Finance industry and the overall market, AMERICA FIRST MULTIFAMILY-LP's return on equity is below that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.

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Alliance Resource Partners

Dividend Yield: 9.90%

Alliance Resource Partners (NASDAQ: ARLP) shares currently have a dividend yield of 9.90%.

Alliance Resource Partners, L.P. produces and markets coal primarily to utilities and industrial users in the United States. It operates in two segments, Illinois Basin and Appalachia; and Other and Corporate. The company has a P/E ratio of 11.45.

The average volume for Alliance Resource Partners has been 321,800 shares per day over the past 30 days. Alliance Resource Partners has a market cap of $1.3 billion and is part of the metals & mining industry. Shares are up 31.3% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates Alliance Resource Partners as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its attractive valuation levels, expanding profit margins and notable return on equity. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including generally higher debt management risk, weak operating cash flow and a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • 37.05% is the gross profit margin for ALLIANCE RESOURCE PTNRS -LP which we consider to be strong. Regardless of ARLP's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, ARLP's net profit margin of 11.45% compares favorably to the industry average.
  • ARLP, with its decline in revenue, slightly underperformed the industry average of 23.9%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues fell by 26.3%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • The debt-to-equity ratio of 1.03 is relatively high when compared with the industry average, suggesting a need for better debt level management. Along with this, the company manages to maintain a quick ratio of 0.37, which clearly demonstrates the inability to cover short-term cash needs.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly decreased to $80.59 million or 50.13% when compared to the same quarter last year. In conjunction, when comparing current results to the industry average, ALLIANCE RESOURCE PTNRS -LP has marginally lower results.

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Costamare

Dividend Yield: 12.70%

Costamare (NYSE: CMRE) shares currently have a dividend yield of 12.70%.

Costamare Inc. owns and charters containerships to liner companies worldwide. The company has a P/E ratio of 5.45.

The average volume for Costamare has been 353,000 shares per day over the past 30 days. Costamare has a market cap of $690.6 million and is part of the transportation industry. Shares are down 11.3% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates Costamare as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its compelling growth in net income, notable return on equity and expanding profit margins. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including generally higher debt management risk and a generally disappointing 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 Marine industry. The net income increased by 33.1% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $26.28 million to $35.00 million.
  • 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 Marine industry and the overall market, COSTAMARE INC's return on equity exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • Net operating cash flow has slightly increased to $57.40 million or 4.54% when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite an increase in cash flow, COSTAMARE INC's average is still marginally south of the industry average growth rate of 5.34%.
  • CMRE's stock share price has done very poorly compared to where it was a year ago: Despite any rallies, the net result is that it is down by 52.47%, which is also worse that the performance of the S&P 500 Index. Investors have so far failed to pay much attention to the earnings improvements the company has managed to achieve over the last 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.
  • Currently the debt-to-equity ratio of 1.55 is quite high overall and when compared to the industry average, suggesting that the current management of debt levels should be re-evaluated. Along with this, the company manages to maintain a quick ratio of 0.36, which clearly demonstrates the inability to cover short-term cash needs.

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