LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) itself isn't moving much at the moment, hanging around the 5,820 mark, not too far short of its recent four-month high of 5,989 points. The index of the U.K.'s biggest companies is stagnating largely because of mixed news about the banking industry, the Chinese economy, and world commodities demand.
But that's not stopping individual shares from storming ahead, and we seem to be in a period when there are companies reaching for the sky every day. Here are three that have hit 52-week highs this week.
Standard Life (ISE: SL.L) is piling it on nicely, having hit a new high of 281.2 pence on Tuesday, though it has fallen back a little to 273.2 pence at the time of writing. The insurer has been a pretty good investment of late, and is currently up 50% from its 52-week low of 181.8 pence and has more than doubled since the depths of 2009.
In addition to that, current forecasts suggest a very nice dividend yield this year of 5.6%, rising to 6% next year, so the shares are not looking expensive. And though insurance can be a volatile business, Standard Life has a good record of maintaining and growing its dividend.
I was especially pleased to see Vodafone (ISE: VOD.L) hitting a new high of 191.75 pence on Tuesday, as it was my first pick for our virtual Beginners' Portfolio in May, and it has risen 11% since it was selected, even after dropping back to 186 pence today.
Overall, the shares are up 19% from their 52-week low back in late 2011, which is pretty good going for a company probably known best for its strong dividend policy. There's a very impressive 6.9% payout forecast for the year to March 2013, with 7.2% expected the following year.
It's also good to see our high street strengthening, with Debenhams (ISE: DEB.L) hitting a new high of 95.6 pence on Wednesday, taking the shares up nearly 60% over the past 12 months. Are our downtrodden shoppers really saving their pennies and not going out spending? It would seem not, judging by Debenhams' rising profits in 2011, with further earnings growth forecast for this year and next, along with expected boosts to the dividend -- likely to be around a fairly modest 3.3%. And whenever I look in my local Debenhams, it always seems to be packed.
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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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