LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) briefly reached a new four-month high of 5,876 points today, before settling back to 5,852, just 20 points up on the day. That's inching ever closer to the 52-week high of 5,966 points set by the index of top U.K. shares in March.
Meanwhile, individual companies in the various FTSE indexes have been reaching for the sky themselves. Here are three that have hit new 52-week highs today.
Insurance underwriter Beazley (ISE: BEZ.L) has had a great year so far, gaining 21% since the end of June and hitting a new 52-week high of 167.9 pence in early trading this morning, before dropping back a little to 166.5 pence at the time of writing. The shares are 44% up over the past 12 months.
But even after that, forecasts still only put the shares on a prospective price-to-earnings ratio of 8.4 for the full year, with a 4.7% dividend forecast, improving to 8.2 and 5.1% for next year. It's perhaps a risky business, but that does not look like overvaluation.
Next (ISE: NXT.L) , the High Street fashion chain, climbed to yet another new high today, reaching 3,589 pence just before midday, before slipping back a few pennies to 3,580 pence as I write.
The most recent surge, which has helped the shares gain 57% over the past 12 months, started on Aug. 1 with a 6.5% jump to 3,427 pence after the firm issued a trading update, lifting its guidance to between 575 million pounds and 620 million pounds in annual profits.
The latest forecasts suggest a dividend of 2.7% this year and 2.9% next year, which makes the shares look high enough to me.
WH Smith (ISE: SMWH.L) is our third to reach a new year-high today, hitting 582.5 pence in morning trading, and now standing on 576.5 pence. The retailer and newsagent started its recent turnaround with an interim update on June 14, telling us that things were going according to plan and that its 50 million pound share buyback program is well under way.
Since then, the shares have gained 22%, but are still only on a modest forecast rating -- a P/E of 9.5 and a dividend yield of 4.5% for this year, with 8.6 and 5.1% penciled in for 2013.
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Alan Oscroft does not own any shares mentioned in this article.The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.
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