Time To Pick Dividend Stocks

Includes: MCEP, NTRI
by: Emerging Growth

With the U.S. equity markets trading at this year's highest levels, potential downside has increased substantially. Buying decent quality stocks with strong dividend payouts such as NutriSystem Inc (NASDAQ:NTRI) and Mid-Con Energy Partners LP (NASDAQ:MCEP) can be an effective strategy in times like these.

NutriSystem offers weight management products and services in the United States. The stock offers an excellent dividend yield of 7.4 percent at the current price of $11.5. It has gained over 14 percent during the last quarter as the company, under a new management, appears to be delivering on its turnaround plan. Its nutritionally balanced weight loss programs have been losing market share to competitors, which is reflected in dropping revenues. In the latest quarter, the company said sales lost 18 percent to $105.4 million, but losses reduced to $0.64 million from $4.48 million in the same period last year. This was the first quarter under the leadership of Dawn Zier and the company is visibly making progress on its turnaround plan, which includes emphasis on direct marketing, margin improvement, and cash efficiency. As a result, gross margin jumped more than 500 basis points to 50.3 percent in the quarter. These efforts will fix margins and although there is less clarity just how Zier plans to boost sales; most restructuring exercises take a 'bottom up' approach.

At current price of $22.5, Texas based oil and gas explorer Mid-Con Energy Partners LP offers a dividend yield of 8.8 percent. This small-scale company has been posting impressive growth in recent years. Nearly an 80 percent jump in first-quarter revenues is in line with its high growth pattern, while a 126 percent surge in earnings may be indicative of where the company is headed in quarters to come. Last month, it acquired additional interest in Oklahoma properties for $28 million. This is a big addition to the company, which recorded revenues of $61.6 million last year, but the good news for investors is that the properties will be immediately accretive to distributable cash flow. At a forward price earnings ratio of 9.9 and at a discount of 13 percent to its 52-week high, the stock looks attractively placed while debt equity ratio of 1.12 ensures the company is not highly leveraged. This is not just a good stock from the regular income point of view but also an excellent fit for a growth-oriented portfolio.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.