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Should you buy Westpac Banking Corp for its monster 6.4% dividend?

With financial markets across the world appearing to have put the Brexit behind them now, I think Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) could be a good investment for bargain hunters with little exposure to the banking sector.

There are a number of bargains to be found on the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) at the moment and Westpac with its estimated fully franked 6.4% dividend has to be up there in my opinion. Its dividend is far higher than the market’s average 4.4%, and a great option for investors searching for income in this low interest environment.

Whilst I think it is fair to say that its days of incredible earnings growth are over for now, I wouldn’t let that put you off Westpac today. As it focuses on stronger growth in small to medium enterprises, wealth, and Asia, I feel confident it is positioned to produce a satisfactory level of profit growth over the next few years that makes it a worthy investment today.

In its most recent interim results for the six months ended March 2016, Westpac reported cash earnings of $3.9 billion. This was a 3% increase from the same period a year previously, which I believe was a good result considering the challenging environment it has been working in.

This challenging environment caused higher impairment charges to negatively impact its results by approximately $252 million. Much of the damage came from four large exposures in particular, widely believed to include Arrium Ltd (ASX: ARI), Slater & Gordon Limited (ASX: SGH), McAleese, and Peabody Energy. Whilst investors are no doubt fearful that this could become a regular theme in future results, the bank does expect impairment charges to be lower in the second half of the year.

During the half it strengthened its all important CET1 capital ratio. This ratio measures a bank’s financial strength, comparing its core equity capital with its total risk-weighted assets. I was pleased to see Westpac increase its capital ratio by 171 basis points to 10.5%, putting it at the upper end of peers both locally and globally.

In light of this I feel the Westpac business and its market-beating dividend look quite secure at the moment. So with its shares down 12% year to date and the markets looking reasonably bullish again, I think now could be an opportune time to take a long-term position in Australia’s oldest bank.

Finally, if you are looking for solid dividends but already have exposure to the banks then I would recommend taking a closer a look at these three fantastic dividend shares.

Each pays a solid fully franked dividend and could provide share price gains in the future in my opinion.

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro 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.

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