Ardent Leisure Group and McMillan Shakespeare Limited: 2 under-the-radar dividend shares

Credit: Cabe Jefferies

If there’s two things that Australian investors like its strong earnings growth and a great dividend yield. The Australian market has an average dividend yield of 4.8% at the moment, so there is certainly a lot of choice out there. Two above average dividend shares that I believe also offer strong earnings growth in the future are:

Ardent Leisure Group (ASX: AAD) operate a diverse portfolio of well-known brands that include Goodlife Health Clubs, Main Event, AMF and Kingpin Bowling, Dreamworld, and SkyPoint.

The Health Clubs segment accounts for approximately a third of its revenue and is going strong. The switch to 24/7 opening hours in many of its clubs has had a positive effect on revenue and attrition. In the last financial year its health clubs revenue improved by almost 9% year over year and I would expect similar levels of growth this year as more of its clubs switch to being open 24/7.

The company also stands to benefit from the weaker Australian dollar due to its Main Event operations in the United States. Main Event are entertainment centres that offer a multitude of family activities in the same venue. Currently it has 20 centres operating with a further 7 expected to open in 2016. The operation pulled in revenue of US $143 million last year.

The health clubs industry is fiercely competitive so there are always risks involved in investing in that area. However, I am pleased that the company has a diverse portfolio of brands and is not reliant on a single segment, which should support the company’s long-term future.

I believe the fact that it is yielding a 6.2% dividend at present and analysts expect earnings to grow at a high pace for the next few years, makes an investment in Ardent Leisure Group worth considering.

McMillan Shakespeare Limited (ASX: MMS) provides salary packaging, novated leasing, and fleet and asset management through its brands Maxxia, RemServ, Interleasing, and Holden Leasing brands.

Trading at a forward PE ratio of just 10.5 it certainly looks like a good time to invest in the company’s shares. In addition is the fact that analysts see earnings growing by 13% per annum for the next two years, as well as the shares currently yield of a fully-franked 5.2% dividend. So it seems we’ve got a strong investment case.

The company has been busy with the acquisitions of Presidian and three United Financial Services companies. These acquisitions bring new income streams and cross-selling opportunities that will further assist with its earnings growth. On top of this, the company has invested in its IT systems which should see a rise in productivity this year.

While salary packaging’s future does look secure in the short to medium term, it is impossible to say whether regulatory changes will occur in the future that could hinder the company. So investors should bear this in mind before opening a position.

Foolish t akeaway

The market drop has made the big four banks of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX: ANZ)Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA)National Australia Bank Ltd (ASX: NAB) and Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) all offer comparable or higher dividends, but these two alternatives provide you with potential earnings growth, a strong dividend, and perhaps most importantly, diversification.

Teaming them up in a portfolio with one of the banks could prove to be a great move this year.

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any stocks mentioned. Unless otherwise noted, the author does not have a position in any stocks mentioned by the author in the comments below. 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.

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