4 High-Risk High-Reward Dividend Plays

by: Matt Schilling

One of the first rules investors learn when entering the stock market is "Buy Low, Sell High", however buying and holding when dividends are involved is not such a bad approach. I've compiled a few lists and demonstrated how dividends directly effect and gauge a company's growth; however this article is going to focus on several high-risk, high-yielding stocks, which may pique the interest of the aggressive investor.

Star Bulk Carriers Corp. (SBLK) - Operating as a shipping company and providing seaborne transportation for such things iron ore, coal, grain, bauxite and fertilizers; SBLK is one of the leaders in the dry bulk sector. Incorporated in 2006 and based in Athens, Greece, Star Bulk currently operates a fleet of 15 vessels.

SBLK currently yields 6.9% and has been paying a dividend for the last 15 quarters. Most recently, they've reduced the quarterly payout from $0.05/share to $0.015/share. However, I feel that an increase to its dividend may not be as far away as others think. The proof lies within the earnings growth of Star Bulk. The average quarterly surprise was $0.0225/share and even though losses were anticipated, they were narrower than expected.

If Star Bulk can return to profitability over the next four to six quarters, investors could see a dividend increase of $0.01/share to $0.03/share. The risk factor here is very high, as negative EPS and increased fuel costs continue to burden Star Bulk as share price has fallen near all-time lows at around $0.91/share.

Standard Register Company (SR-OLD) - Founded in Dayton, Ohio in 1912 the Standard Register Company engages in the management of communications throughout various sectors. These sectors include but are not limited to healthcare, finance, industrial goods and commercial business. Each sector is broken down into smaller segments and each segment directly affects SR's bottom line. SR currently yields 18.5%, and trades at roughly $0.95/share giving it a recent market cap of $28.7 million.

Standard Register has paid a regular quarterly dividend since November 1995, and investors should acknowledge the recent progress they've made in terms of partnerships. Continued strength in SR's relationship with Health Trust will not only increase their visibility in the healthcare documents space, it will allow for the introduction of SR's coveted SMARTworks ® clinical enterprise to Health Trust's clients. This exposure plays a vital role in the future success of SR's suite.

Annaly Capital Management (NLY) - When I think of Annaly, I think of the once great yield that proudly lead the REIT sector. However, that yield is becoming less and less and attractive and the risk is starting to pile up. Most folks would say a 14.4% yield and $15.70 share price are both very attractive, yet I disagree.

The past two quarters have been absolutely dismal, and a recent dividend cut may signal that the worst is yet to come. Most Investors will recall my last article pertaining to NLY, which demonstrated a mutual understanding between the management of CIM and NLY, which will continue to hinder the growth of both companies in years to come. I can see nothing attractive in the near term as the subprime mortgage market and subprime mortgage back securities will become less and less appealing.

Solar Capital (SLRC) - According to their website, Solar Capital invests primarily in leveraged, middle-market companies in the form of senior secured loans, mezzanine loans and equity securities. Solar Capital's investment objective is to generate both current income and capital appreciation through debt and equity investments.

Solar Capital is probably the dividend diamond of the bunch. They've surpassed analysts' estimates two out of the last four quarters and have earned an average of $0.565/share in the same time period. SLRC yields 11.4% and has be consistent with their $0.60/share quarterly distribution since June 2010. One of the brighter spots for SLRC is their sales growth which has grown an average of 11.92% over the last four quarters when compared to the same time period a year earlier.

SLRC has some very good upside potential that investors should consider. I would try to stay cautious and pay very close to attention to the company's guidance when earnings are reported on May 1st. Any hint at a dividend cut could trigger a near term sell-off and have investors scrambling.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.