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Five candidates based on the following criteria have been picked and examined thoroughly below. These are not absolute rules but suggestions to get the novice investor started. The criteria can be adjusted to suit your own specific style of trading. We will also include a company that does not fulfill the entire requirement as an example of what novice investors should generally shy away from. In this instance, we have included Telefonica S.A. (TEF), even though it does not meet all the requirements, it could make for a good play for those willing to take on some risk. It is being unfairly rated as a pure euro play when in fact, it is not. Its Brazilian segment contributed close to 23% of the revenue for this quarter, and the Spanish business segment contributed roughly another 25%. Its Latin America mobile phone user base now stands at over 170 million, an increase of 13% in the first quarter. It has gross revenues of $78 billion and a levered free cash flow of 6.03 billion.

A lot of key ratios will be used in this article and it would be good for investors to get a handle on some of the more important key ratios listed below.

The payout ratio tells us what portion of the profit is being returned to investors. A payout ratio over 100% indicates that the company is paying out more money to shareholders than they are making. This situation cannot last forever. In general if the company has a high operating cash flow and access to capital markets, they can keep this going on for a while. As companies usually only pay the portion of the debt that is coming due and not the whole debt, this technique/trick can technically be employed to maintain the dividend for some time. If the payout ratio continues to increase, the situation warrants close monitoring as this cannot last forever. If your tolerance for risk is low, look for similar companies with the same or higher yields, but with lower payout ratios.

Long-term debt-to-equity ratio is the total long term debt divided by the total equity. The amount of long-term debt a company carries on its balance sheet is very important for it indicates the amount of money a company owes that it doesn't expect to pay off in the next year. A balance sheet that illustrates that long term debt has been decreasing for a few years is a sign that the company is doing well. When debt levels fall, and cash levels increase, the balance sheet is said to be improving and vice versa. If a company has too much debt on its books, it could end up being overwhelmed with interest payments and risk having too little working capital which could in the worst case scenario lead to bankruptcy.

Operating cash flow is generally a better metric than earnings per share because a company can show positive net earnings and still not be able to properly service its debt. The cash flow is what pays the bills.

Free cash flow yield is obtained by dividing free cash flow per share by the current price of each share. Generally lower ratios are associated with an unattractive investment and vice versa. Free cash flow takes into account capital expenditures and other ongoing costs associated with the day to day to functions of the business. In our view free cash flow yield is a better valuation metric then earnings yield because of the above factors.

Current Ratio is obtained by dividing the current assets by current liabilities. This ratio allows you to see if the company can pay its current debts without potentially jeopardizing future earnings. Ideally the company should have a ratio of 1 or higher.

Price to free cash flow is obtained by dividing the share price by free cash flow per share. Higher ratios are associated with more expensive companies and vice versa. Lower ratios are generally more attractive. If a company generated $400 million in cash flow and then spent $100 million on capital expenditure, then its free cash flow is $300 million. If the share price is $100 and the free cash flow per share is $5, then the company trades at 20 times-free cash flow. This ratio is also useful because it can be used as a comparison to the average within the industry. This gives you an idea of how the company you are interested in holds up to the other companies within the industry.

Cash ratio is the ratio of the company's total cash and cash equivalents to its current liabilities; this ratio is used as a measure of a company's liquidity. It allows investors to determine how fast the company would be able to pay its short term debts if push came to shove. Higher numbers are better because it makes it easier for a company to ask for new loans, increase in credit lines, etc.

Interest coverage is usually calculated by dividing the earnings before interest and taxes for a period of one year by the interest expenses for the same time period. This ratio informs you of a company's ability to make its interest payments on its outstanding debt. Lower interest coverage ratios indicate that there is a larger debt burden on the company and vice versa. For example if a company has an interest ratio of 11.8, this means that it covers interest expenses 11.8 times with operating profits.

Price to tangible book is obtained by dividing share price by tangible book value per share. The ratio gives investors some idea of whether they are paying too much for what would be left over if the company were to declare bankruptcy immediately. In general stocks that trade at higher price to tangible book value could leave investors facing a great percentage per share loss than those that trade at lower ratios. The price to tangible book value is theoretically the lowest possible price the stock would trade to.

Retention ratio is the amount of net income that is not paid out as dividends. In other words, it is the money the company retains that can be used to grow the business, etc. It is calculated by subtracting 1 from the dividend ratio.

Levered free cash flow is the amount of cash available to stock holders after interest payments on debt are made. A company with a small amount of debt will only have to spend a modest amount of money on interest payments, which in turn means that there is more money to send to shareholders in the form of dividends and vice versa. A more detailed list of key ratios can be obtained from here.

Company: Blackstone Group (BX)

Brief Overview

  1. Short Ratio = 2.3
  2. Relative Strength 52 weeks = 41
  3. Cash Flow 5-year Average = 2.7
  4. Profit Margin = -5.1%
  5. Operating Margin = -4.33%
  6. Quarterly Revenue Growth = -17.7%
  7. Quarterly Earnings Growth = 36.6%
  8. Operating Cash Flow = 792.33M
  9. Beta = 2.13
  10. Percentage Held by Institutions = 24.1%
  11. Short Percentage of Float = 1.8%

Growth

  1. Net Income ($mil) 12/2011 = -168
  2. Net Income ($mil) 12/2010 = -370
  3. Net Income ($mil) 12/2009 = -715
  4. Net Income Reported Quarterly ($mil) = 58
  5. EBITDA ($mil) 12/2011 = 343
  6. EBITDA ($mil) 12/2010 = -319
  7. EBITDA ($mil) 12/2009 = -2120
  8. Cash Flow ($/share) 12/2011 = 3.2
  9. Cash Flow ($/share) 12/2010 = 2.68
  10. Cash Flow ($/share) 12/2009 = 1.82
  11. Sales ($mil) 12/2011 = 3253
  12. Sales ($mil) 12/2010 = 3119
  13. Sales ($mil) 12/2009 = 1774
  14. Annual EPS before NRI 12/2007 = 1.62
  15. Annual EPS before NRI 12/2008 = -1.03
  16. Annual EPS before NRI 12/2009 = 0.63
  17. Annual EPS before NRI 12/2010 = 1.46
  18. Annual EPS before NRI 12/2011 = 1.25


(Click to enlarge)

Dividend history

  1. Dividend Yield = 3.10
  2. Dividend Yield 5 Year Average 03/2012 = 5.91
  3. Dividend 5 year Growth 03/2012 = -23.32

Dividend sustainability

  1. Payout Ratio = N/A
  2. Payout Ratio 5 Year Average 03/2012 = 0.89

Performance

  1. Next 3-5 Year Estimate EPS Growth rate = 14.5
  2. 5 Year History EPS Growth 03/2012 = N/A
  3. ROE 5 Year Average 03/2012 = 4.22
  4. ROE 5 Year Average 12/2011 = 4.22
  5. Return on Investment 03/2012 = N/A
  6. Debt/Total Cap 5 Year Average 03/2012 = 43.46
  7. Current Ratio 03/2012 = N/A
  8. Current Ratio 12/2011 = 0.73
  9. Current Ratio 5 Year Average = 0.84
  10. Quick Ratio = 0.78
  11. Cash Ratio = 0.44
  12. Interest Coverage Quarterly = 32.45

Company: Dover Corp (DOV)

Levered Free Cash Flow = 612.40M

Brief Overview

  1. Percentage Held by Insiders = 0.95
  2. Number of Institutional Sellers 12 Weeks = 1
  3. 3 Month Percentage Chg Short Interest = n/a
  4. Short Ratio = 2
  5. Relative Strength 52 weeks = 38
  6. Cash Flow 5-year Average = 4.46
  7. Profit Margin = 10.93%
  8. Operating Margin = 15.34%
  9. Quarterly Revenue Growth = 13.9%
  10. Quarterly Earnings Growth = 0.6%
  11. Operating Cash Flow = 1.09B
  12. Beta = 1.43
  13. Percentage Held by Institutions = 87.7%
  14. Short Percentage of Float = 1.7%

Growth

  1. Net Income ($mil) 12/2011 = 700
  2. Net Income ($mil) 12/2010 = 356
  3. Net Income ($mil) 12/2009 = 356
  4. Net Income Reported Quarterly ($mil) = 196
  5. EBITDA ($mil) 12/2011 = 1248
  6. EBITDA ($mil) 12/2010 = 826
  7. EBITDA ($mil) 12/2009 = 826
  8. Cash Flow ($/share) 12/2011 = 4.81
  9. Cash Flow ($/share) 12/2010 = 3.24
  10. Cash Flow ($/share) 12/2009 = 3.24
  11. Sales ($mil) 12/2011 = 7100
  12. Sales ($mil) 12/2010 = 5776
  13. Sales ($mil) 12/2009 = 5776
  14. Annual EPS before NRI 12/2007 = 3.22
  15. Annual EPS before NRI 12/2008 = 3.67
  16. Annual EPS before NRI 12/2009 = 1.99
  17. Annual EPS before NRI 12/2010 = 1.99
  18. Annual EPS before NRI 12/2011 = 3.47


(Click to enlarge)

Dividend history

  1. Dividend Yield = 2.40
  2. Dividend Yield 5 Year Average 03/2012 = 2.26
  3. Dividend 5 year Growth 03/2012 = 10.14

Dividend sustainability

  1. Payout Ratio 03/2012 = 0.28
  2. Payout Ratio 5 Year Average 03/2012 = 0.32

Performance

  1. Next 3-5 Year Estimate EPS Growth rate = 11.58
  2. 5 Year History EPS Growth 03/2012 = 5.18
  3. ROE 5 Year Average 03/2012 = 15.34
  4. Return on Investment 03/2012 = 11.89
  5. Debt/Total Cap 5 Year Average 03/2012 = 30.72
  6. Current Ratio 03/2012 = 2.69
  7. Current Ratio 5 Year Average = 2.36
  8. Quick Ratio = 2.16
  9. Cash Ratio = 1.17
  10. Interest Coverage = 9.89

Company: Disney Walt (DIS)

Levered Free Cash Flow = 3.30B

Brief Overview

  1. Short Ratio = 5.3%
  2. Relative Strength 52 weeks = 87
  3. Cash Flow 5-year Average = 2.88
  4. Profit Margin = 12.46%
  5. Operating Margin = 20.07%
  6. Quarterly Revenue Growth = 6.1%
  7. Quarterly Earnings Growth = 21.3%
  8. Operating Cash Flow = 7.47B
  9. Beta = 1.18
  10. Percentage Held by Institutions = 67.1%
  11. Short Percentage of Float = 2.9%

Growth

1. Net Income ($mil) 12/2011 = 4807

2. Net Income ($mil) 12/2010 = 3963

3. Net Income ($mil) 12/2009 = 3307

4. Net Income Reported Quarterly ($mil) = 1143

5. EBITDA ($mil) 12/2011 = 10227

6. EBITDA ($mil) 12/2010 = 8749

7. EBITDA ($mil) 12/2009 = 7755

8. Cash Flow ($/share) 12/2011 = 3.6

9. Cash Flow ($/share) 12/2010 = 3.01

10. Cash Flow ($/share) 12/2009 = 2.72

11. Sales ($mil) 12/2011 = 40893

12. Sales ($mil) 12/2010 = 38063

13. Sales ($mil) 12/2009 = 36149

14. Annual EPS before NRI 12/2007 = 1.91

15. Annual EPS before NRI 12/2008 = 2.27

16. Annual EPS before NRI 12/2009 = 1.82

17. Annual EPS before NRI 12/2010 = 2.07

18. Annual EPS before NRI 12/2011 = 2.54


(Click to enlarge)

Dividend history

  1. Dividend Yield = 1.2
  2. Dividend Yield 5 Year Average = 1.18
  3. Dividend 5 year Growth = 8.22

Dividend sustainability

  1. Payout Ratio 03/2012 = 0.22
  2. Payout Ratio 5 Year Average 12/2011 = 0.18

Performance

  1. Next 3-5 Year Estimate EPS Growth rate = 12.6
  2. ROE 5 Year Average 12/2011 = 11.86
  3. Current Ratio = 1.14
  4. Current Ratio 5 Year Average = 1.14
  5. Quick Ratio = 1.01
  6. Cash Ratio = 0.5
  7. Interest Coverage Quarterly = 20.75

Company: Telefonica S.A.

Levered Free Cash Flow = 6.16B

Brief Overview

  1. Percentage Held by Insiders = 0.01
  2. Relative Strength 52 weeks = 21
  3. Cash Flow 5-year Average = 2.11
  4. Profit Margin = 7.06%
  5. Operating Margin = 17.82%
  6. Quarterly Revenue Growth = 0.7%
  7. Quarterly Earnings Growth = -53.9%
  8. Operating Cash Flow = 0.0164
  9. Beta = 1.56
  10. Short ratio = 1.8%

Growth

  1. Net Income ($mil) 12/2011 = 8617
  2. Net Income ($mil) 12/2010 = 13375
  3. Net Income ($mil) 12/2009 = 11072
  4. Net Income Reported Quarterly ($mil) = 969
  5. EBITDA ($mil) 12/2011 = 9036
  6. EBITDA ($mil) 12/2010 = 18459
  7. EBITDA ($mil) 12/2009 = 14490
  8. Cash Flow ($/share) 12/2011 = 1.55
  9. Cash Flow ($/share) 12/2010 = 2.18
  10. Cash Flow ($/share) 12/2009 = 2.32
  11. Sales ($mil) 12/2011 = 84277
  12. Sales ($mil) 12/2010 = 83649
  13. Sales ($mil) 12/2009 = 79140
  14. Annual EPS before NRI 12/2007 = 0.61
  15. Annual EPS before NRI 12/2002 = 2.03
  16. Annual EPS before NRI 12/2009 = 2.33
  17. Annual EPS before NRI 12/2010 = 6.6
  18. Annual EPS before NRI 12/2011 = 4.71


(Click to enlarge)

Dividend history

  1. Dividend Yield = 11.00
  2. Dividend Yield 5 Year Average = 5.8
  3. Dividend 5 year Growth = 19.4%

Dividend sustainability

  1. Payout Ratio = 1.27
  2. Payout Ratio 5 Year Average = 0.44

Performance

  1. Next 3-5 Year Estimate EPS Growth rate = 11.11
  2. ROE 5 Year Average = 40.33
  3. Current Ratio = 0.72
  4. Current Ratio 5 Year Average = 0.73
  5. Quick Ratio = 0.6
  6. Cash Ratio = 0.26
  7. Interest Coverage Quarterly = 2.20

Notes

This stock is being treated as pure euro play when, in fact, it is not. A good portion of its growth and earnings are generated from South America. However, only investors willing to take on some risk should consider jumping into this play right now. It also stated that it would be reducing its dividend in 2012 and 2013 by approximately 14% but even at this rate the yield is double that of AT&T.

Company: MFA Financial (MFA)

Brief overview

  1. EPS 5 year growth rate = 77%
  2. Short ratio = 4.4%
  3. Quarterly earnings growth = 3.00%
  4. Quarterly revenue growth = 2.2%
  5. Profit Margins = 90.9%
  6. Operating margins = 90.8%
  7. Beta = 0.97
  8. Operating cash flow = $352M

Growth

  1. Net Income ($mil) 12/2011 = 316
  2. Net Income ($mil) 12/2010 = 270
  3. Net Income ($mil) 12/2009 = 268
  4. EBITDA ($mil) 12/2011 = 507
  5. EBITDA ($mil) 12/2010 = 456
  6. EBITDA ($mil) 12/2009 = 522
  7. Cash Flow ($/share) 12/2011 = 1.07
  8. Cash Flow ($/share) 12/2010 = 1.01
  9. Cash Flow ($/share) 12/2009 = 1
  10. Sales ($mil) 12/2011 = 508
  11. Sales ($mil) 12/2010 = 453
  12. Sales ($mil) 12/2009 = 539
  13. Annual EPS before NRI 12/2007 = 0.24
  14. Annual EPS before NRI 12/2008 = 0.21
  15. Annual EPS before NRI 12/2009 = 0.94
  16. Annual EPS before NRI 12/2010 = 0.86
  17. Annual EPS before NRI 12/2011 = 0.97


(Click to enlarge)

Dividend history

  1. Dividend Yield = 12.00
  2. Dividend Yield 5 Year Average =12.20
  3. Dividend 5 year Growth = 32

Dividend sustainability

  1. Payout Ratio = 1.16
  2. Payout Ratio 5 Year Average = 2.48

Performance

  1. Next 3-5 Year Estimate EPS Growth rate = 4
  2. ROE 5 Year Average = 8.31
  3. Current Ratio = 9.83
  4. Current Ratio 5 Year Average = 21.76
  5. Quick Ratio = 9.83
  6. Cash Ratio = 8.9
  7. Interest Coverage = 3.10

Conclusion

A great way to get into a stock that you are bullish on is to sell puts at strikes you would not mind owning the stock at.

Disclaimer: It is imperative that you do your due diligence and then determine if the above plays meets with your risk tolerance levels. The Latin maxim caveat emptor applies-let the buyer beware.

Source: 5 Interesting Dividend Candidates To Consider For Your Portfolio