Is AudioCodes (AUDC) Stock Outpacing Its Computer and Technology Peers This Year?
It’s been up, up, and away for the markets since the end of September. Both the NASDAQ and S&P 500 are trading within 3% of their recent record high levels, after counting for daily fluctuations. It’s a clear sign of a bullish mood among investors.And that bullish mood is finding fertile soil among Wall Street’s stock analysts, who are not hesitant to make buy-side calls. There are some indications that the analysts are hedging their bets, however, as among the recent Buy reviews published several also offer strong dividend yields.Return-minded investors can find a degree of safety in high-yielding equities. The advantage of such a fundamentally defensive strategy is obvious: stocks that are rising now will bring the immediate gains of share appreciation, while strong dividends will provide a steady income stream regardless of market conditions.Using the data available in the TipRanks database, we’ve pulled up three stocks with high yields – from 7% to 9%. Even better, these stocks are seen as Strong Buys by Wall Street’s analysts. Let’s find out why.Energy Transfer LP (ET)First up is Energy Transfer, a major name in North America’s hydrocarbon midstream sector. The company’s primary network of assets covers 38 states and links three major oil and gas production regions – in the Midwest-Appalachian and Texas-Oklahoma-Louisiana regions, along with North Dakota. Energy Transfer has smaller assets in the Colorado Rockies, Florida, and northern Alberta. These assets include pipelines, terminals, and storage tanks for natural gas and crude oil. The value of ET’s services is clear from the company’s $18 billion market cap and $54 billion in annual revenues.That value, along with the effects of the health and economic crises of 2020, are also clear from the company’s recent third quarter earnings release. On the negative side, revenues were down 26% from the year-ago quarter, while EPS was down 18%. In absolute numbers, the top line came in at $9.96 million while the bottom line was reported at 30 cents per share. Both figures beat the forecasts by a wide margin.Beating the forecasts was a positive note. On another, the company reported $400 million in cost savings year-to-date, due to initiatives to control and streamline expenses. Total debt long-term debt remained stable at $54 million.In an announcement at the end of October, Energy Transfer declared its Q3 dividend, at 15.25 cents per common share. This was a 50% reduction from previous payments, and implemented for several reasons. Chief among those reasons is releasing cash for debt reduction. The dividend reduction also keeps the dividend yield in line with historical values (with the shares down this year, the yield was artificially inflated), and affordable at current income levels. The new dividend payment annualizes to 61 cents per common share, and – even after the reduction – gives a high yield of 8.8%.Covering the stock for Raymond James, analyst Justin Jenkins noted, “We still see ET’s top-tier integrated midstream footprint as a big positive, but risks are high and will remain so. Ultimately, we believe the core business and long-term free cash flow generation (which will improve dramatically in 2021) will help ET differentiate itself within the midstream space… ET’s large valuation discount to peers is unlikely to completely narrow in the near-term, we see the risk/reward as skewing positive in most scenarios.”In line with these comments, Jenkins rates ET a Strong Buy, and his $9 price target suggests it has room for 26% growth in the year ahead. (To watch Jenkins’ track record, click here)Wall Street appears to be in broad agreement with Jenkins, as ET shares maintain a Strong Buy rating from the analyst consensus. There have been 8 recent reviews, including 7 Buys and a single Hold. The stock’s $9.29 average price target is slightly more bullish than the Raymond James position, implying ~31% upside potential from the $7.09 trading price. (See ET stock analysis on TipRanks)Omega Healthcare (OHI)REITs are frequently known for high-yielding dividends, as tax regulations require these companies to return a minimum percentage of profits back to investors. Omega Healthcare, a real estate investment trust, is no different from its peers in that regard, but it does offer investors a twist. The company’s portfolio consists of skilled nursing facilities and senior housing facilities, in an 83% to 17% split. The portfolio is valued at more than $10 billion. It totals 957 facilities in 40 states plus the UK.At the top line, Omega reported declines in Q3 revenues. The $119 million reported was down 53% sequentially and 16% year-over-year. That was the bad news. Adjusted funds from operations (FFO), a common metric used to judge REITs’ income levels, beat the forecast by 5%, coming in at 82 cents per share. In other positive notes this year, Omega has reported collected 99% of rents due in each quarter of 2020, and successfully issued, this past October, $700 million in Senior Notes at 3.375% and due in 2031. The company aims to use the funds raised to, first, repay existing debt, and second, to cover general operations.Omega currently pays out a 67-cent dividend per common share, and as held that payment steady for nearly three years. The company has a 6-year history of reliable dividend payments. The annualized payment is $2.68 per common share, making the yield 7.1%. This company’s performance, including the reliable dividend, prompted JMP analyst Aaron Hecht to rate OHI an Outperform (i.e. Buy). His $43 price target indicates a 14% upside over the next 12 months. (To watch Hecht’s track record, click here)Backing his stance, Hecht writes, “We believe COVID-19 vaccine deliveries will begin to arrive within the next two weeks and skilled nursing facility residents will be prioritized, based on vulnerability. We view this as a major positive for OHI as the largest owner of skilled nursing facilities in the United States. Although OHI’s tenants have generally performed well during the pandemic, an increase in demand would be a derisking event… We believe OHI deserves a slight premium to its three-year, pre-pandemic comps given demand tailwinds. We are buyers of the stock…” In the meantime, OHI has a Strong Buy rating from the analyst consensus, based on 8 reviews breaking down to 6 Buys and 2 Holds. Omega’s share price has risen 28% since the first week of November, in the wake of the Q3 earnings. This has pushed the stock’s trading price, currently $37.69, slightly above the $36.88 average price target. (See OHI stock analysis on TipRanks)Owl Rock Capital Corporation (ORCC)Last but not least is Owl Rock Capital, a specialty finance company based in New York. Owl Rock works in the middle-market finance sector, offering access to capital for mid-market companies to make acquisitions, fund operations, and conduct recapitalizations. The company’s portfolio boasts $10.2 billion in total assets, of which 97% are senior secured assets. Owl Rock has current investments in 110 companies.Owl Rock’s third quarter earnings came in slightly below expectations. EPS was 33 cents per share, down 3% sequentially and missing the estimates by 2 cents. Net asset value per share increased 1% quarter-over-quarter, from $14.52 at the end of June to $14.67 at the end of September. In a move to shore up liquidity, Owl Rock priced a public offering of $1 billion in 3.4% notes in the first week of December. The issue is due in 2026, and provides funds to paydown existing debt in the revolving credit facility and to fund general operations.Also in the first week of this month, Owl Creek confirmed that it is discussions to acquire Dyal Capital. The move would combine Owl Creek’s direct lending platform with Dyal’s access to capital solutions.Owl Creek has a regular share dividend payment of 31 cents quarterly, which has been supplemented since May 2019 by a series of 6 special 8-cent dividend payments. Calculating the yield by the regular dividend, we find it at 9.6%, based on an annualized rate of $1.24 per common share. For comparison, the average dividend among S&P-listed companies stands at 2%.The review here was written by Devin Ryan, 5-star analyst with JMP Securities. Focusing on the Dyal Capital announcement, Ryan noted, “While it is important to distinguish that this merger is between the management companies, not the BDC directly, and ultimately we do not expect much change, we do think a transaction could represent a positive outcome for ORCC shareholders over time.””We continue to view the opportunity in ORCC shares as attractive due to: 1) strong credit performance and expectations; 2) a well-positioned balance sheet; 3) the earnings scale-up as leverage moves to the target 1.0x by 2H21; and 4) an increase in the yield profile of the portfolio through a higher mix of unitranche loans,” the analyst concluded. To this end, Ryan rates Owl Creek’s shares an Outperform (i.e. Buy), and his $14.50 price target suggests a 13% upside in the coming year. (To watch Ryan’s track record, click here)Owl Creek’s Strong Buy consensus rating is based on 6 reviews. These show a 5 to 1 split between Buys and Holds. ORCC is trading at $12.78, and its $13.90 average price target implies ~9% upside. (See ORCC stock analysis on TipRanks)To find good ideas for dividend stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights.Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.