3 FTSE Shares Hitting New Highs


LONDON -- The FTSE 100 has had a couple of sluggish months since it reached a five-year high of 6,534 on March 12. But after a bullish end to last week, the FTSE has today smashed that high, setting a new five-year record of 6,552 points by midday. As of 10:20 a.m. EDT, it's back a bit from that, though still ahead of March's high at 6,541 points, up 0.3% for the day.

Individual FTSE 100 companies are setting new records, too. Here are three reaching 12-month highs today.

Having reached 1,148 pence this morning to set a new 52-week high, Rolls-Royce Holdings shares are now up 40% since this time last year. That was partly due to a strong 2012, which saw a 22% rise in earnings per share and an 11% rise in the dividend -- albeit with a modest yield of 2.2% on the year-end price.

And then last week, the aero engine maker released a positive first-quarter update telling us that trading is in line with expectations and reiterating its guidance for the full year. Current forecasts suggest a further 11% boost to EPS, putting the shares on a price-to-earnings ratio of 17, and there's another 11% boost to the dividend predicted. First-half results should be with us on July 25.

Marks & Spencer
Marks & Spencer Group shares are up about 20% over the past 12 months, reaching a new high of 417.4 pence this morning. The shares were given a boost last month when M&S delivered its best-ever Easter week and its strongest quarterly sales growth for two years -- group sales were up 3.1% over the year-ago period.

Expectations for the year to March 31 are modest, with a small fall in earnings penciled in. But the firm's turnaround plan is expected to make a positive earnings impact from 2014 onward, and the dividend looks set to be maintained at 17 pence per share for a yield of 4.1% on today's price. Results should be with us on May 21.

Aberdeen Asset Management
It seems Aberdeen Asset Management can do no wrong, with its shares hitting a new high of 468.8 pence today. The price has soared more than 70% over the past 12 months.

Interim results last week told us of a 25% revenue rise to 516 million pounds, leading to a 37% rise in underlying pre-tax profit to 223 million pounds. Compared to Sept. 30, 2012, assets under management were up 13% to 212 billion pounds. The firm also announced a halftime dividend of 6 pence per share.

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