Is Insurance Australia Group Ltd’s 5.6% fully franked dividend the best bet out there?

Australian insurer Insurance Australia Group Ltd (ASX: IAG) (“IAG”) is well known for its dividend. While profits have fluctuated over the last decade due to the vagaries of the insurance business, IAG shares have persistently traded at a reasonable price and usually with a decent dividend attached.

Currently, shares yield 5.6% fully franked, which is more than enough to get dividend-seeking investors interested – but is IAG really the best dividend investment out there? As I have written before, here, here, and here, Insurance Australia Group faces challenges in the year ahead.

Instead, or in addition to IAG, investors could consider owning shares in Coca-Cola Amatil Ltd (ASX: CCL). Coca-Cola also faces its challenges domestically, but has businesses in Indonesia that could deliver substantial growth to shareholders.

While Amatil is only expected to grow earnings modestly in the next few years, I believe its geographic diversification provides additional opportunity which IAG lacks. Coca-Cola Amatil yields 5.3% franked to 75% at today’s prices.

For those that like insurers and are willing to take a lower dividend for better growth prospects, there’s QBE Insurance Group Ltd (ASX: QBE), which only earns 22% of Gross Written Premium in the ANZ region. QBE earns 36% of its Gross Written Premium (“GWP”) in North America – great exposure to a recovering US economy – as well as 11% in Emerging Markets. The remaining 31% comes from Europe.

QBE pays a very reasonable 4.5% dividend, fully franked, and could even bring some capital growth as several analysts suggest shares could be worth around $12-$15 apiece.

Finally, those wanting to branch out a little into something unconventional could buy shares in G8 Education Ltd (ASX: GEM), which is a childcare centre owner-operator with centres located throughout Australia and in Singapore.

G8 comes with the advantage of a 6.5%, fully franked dividend that is paid quarterly – great for income seekers. A downside is that the company uses debt and capital raisings (issues new shares) fairly aggressively in order to acquire more centres and grow its earnings. Gearing currently stands at around 40% and, although expansion appears to have slowed recently, investors must be aware of the risk of having their shareholding diluted if they’re unwilling to subscribe to capital raisings.

While it does use a fair bit of leverage, G8 appears financially stable and it sure pays a great dividend.

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Motley Fool contributor Sean O'Neill owns shares of Coca-Cola Amatil Limited and G8 Education Limited. 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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