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Should you hold onto your Westpac Banking Corp shares?

Credit: perry carbonell

Two of the big four banks have been busy this week.

On Tuesday Australia & New Zealand Banking Group (ASX: ANZ) released a trading update for the nine months to June 30, and this morning Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA) took centre stage when it announced its full year results to the market.

Whilst I was pleased with both results, I was especially pleased with ANZ’s trading update. A lot of investors had been fearing the worst, but overall, I felt the bank produced a solid result with cash profit for the period easing just 3% to $5.2 billion.

These results in a difficult economic environment fill me with confidence that Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) will follow suit with an equally solid result when it reports its preliminary full year results in October.

The good news is that unlike ANZ which is likely to see a drop in full year cash profits, I expect Westpac to deliver modest cash profit growth at a similar rate to Commonwealth Bank. So rather than cut its dividend as many had speculated, I believe this could allow Westpac to grow its dividend against all odds.

With the Reserve Bank slashing interest rates to another record low and more cuts potentially around the corner, income investors could do a lot worse than an investment in Westpac. At present its shares are expected to provide investors with an estimated full year fully franked 6% dividend.

Not only does this make it far and away a better yield than any term deposits available to investors, but it is also a full 180 basis points higher than the market average 4.2% dividend.

At just 1.9x book value compared to 2.4x book value for Commonwealth Bank shares, I believe Westpac shares are priced about fairly at present.

Because of this, I believe Westpac is an attractive long-term investment option today. Though of course in order to maintain a diverse portfolio, I wouldn’t recommend investing in Australia’s oldest bank if your portfolio already has reasonable exposure to the banking sector.

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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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