I have written previously about the importance of looking at a company’s dividend growth potential, as opposed to just looking for the highest dividend yields.

As I wrote then – companies with the highest trailing yield will typically not have the greatest potential for dividend growth in coming years. A stock with a moderate yield and high-growth rate may quickly prove to be a superior investment for long-term investors.

In order to double dividends over five years, an annual growth rate of around 15% is required. This is a high benchmark and a sign that things are going well in the business. It is also important that earnings are growing too, and higher dividends are not just coming from an increased payout ratio over time.

Here are three companies which have more than doubled their earnings per share, and their dividends, in the last five years.

McMillan Shakespeare Limited (ASX: MMS) provides leasing and salary packaging services. Earnings per share increased from 43.90 cents per share (cps) in 2010 to 97.21 in 2015. McMillan’s impressive run of growth actually extends beyond five years, with earnings per share growing at nearly 20% for the last 10 years.

McMillan paid out 52 cps in 2015, which analysts forecast will grow to 62.5 cps in 2016 and 67 cps in 2017. A 62.5 cent distribution for 2016 suggests a fully franked yield of 4.15%.

If it can deliver on these forecasts, and keep it up for a few more years, McMillan has a decent shot at doubling dividends again over the next five years.

Insurance Australia Group Ltd (ASX: IAG) paid out 13.5 cents in fully franked dividends in 2011. For 2016, the company has paid out 39 cps (10 cents of this was a special dividend).

IAG now has a policy of paying out 60%-80% of cash earnings. Up 68%, the share price has underperformed the dividend growth over the five years, meaning the dividend yield has increased. It is currently over 5%, fully franked.

IAG increased its earnings per share from 6.76 cents in 2010 to 37.52 cents in 2015. However, this large growth is in part due to IAG coming off a low base after a poor year in 2010. It is hard to imagine earnings and dividend growth of a similar magnitude for IAG in the coming five years.

Macquarie Group Ltd (ASX: MQG) has more than doubled its earnings per share over the last five years. The company paid out $1.86 in dividends per share in 2010 and will pay out $4 in 2016 on the back of record profits.

Macquarie has been a stand-out performer in the financial sector and has outshone the big four banks with a five-year share price gain of 124%.

Shares are currently priced around $75, with at least one broker setting a 12-month target of above $95.

Macquarie currently offers a dividend yield of around 5.3%.

Dividend growth in the next five years is unlikely to be as strong, however, I consider Macquarie represents a solid opportunity for long-term investors at the current price.

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Motley Fool contributor Matthew Bugden has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.