3 FTSE Shares Hitting New Highs


LONDON -- The FTSE 100 set a 13-year high of 6,876 points on May 22, and since then it's been lurching from euphoria to panic on a regular basis, with 100-point swings becoming a near-daily occurrence. But at least things are a little quieter today, with the U.K.'s top-tier index up a relaxed 25 points, or 0.38%, to 6,652 as of 8:30 a.m. EDT.

A number of top companies have also been bouncing around their record share prices. Here are three toying with their peaks today.

The BP share price has been hovering around a 52-week high of 485 pence all week. It's at 481 pence as I write, having approached 482 pence again around mid-morning. And over the past 12 months, BP shares have gained about 21% as panic from the Gulf of Mexico disaster subsides.

But after such a rise, what's the current valuation like? Well, with current forecasts for the year to December 2013 suggesting a 35% rise in earnings per share to about 54 pence, that puts the shares on a price-to-earnings ratio of less than nine. And though there is still some uncertainty surrounding the final cost of the oil spill cleanup, that looks cheap to me -- especially with a well-covered dividend yield of about 5% being predicted.

Whitbread shares have been behaving similarly this week, hitting a 52-week intraday high of 2,905 pence on Tuesday before dropping back to 2,853 pence as I write. Over the past 12 months, the price of the hotel, restaurant, and coffee shop operator has soared by more than 50%.

Full-year results to Feb. 28 were impressive, with revenue up 14%, underlying pre-tax profit up 11.4%, and underlying EPS up 12% -- all enabling a 12% boost to the annual dividend. But that rise comes at a price, and the shares are now valued on a P/E of 17 based on forecasts for the current year.

Engineering software and services specialist Invensys has seen its shares climb more than 80% over the past year to 399 pence today -- and in recent days we've seen regular closes around a record 400 pence mark. The year ended March 31 was described as "transformational" by the company after it disposed of Invensys Rail for £1.7 billion, settled its outstanding pension-scheme issues, and allocated £625 million in cash for return to shareholders.

With the firm now a "focused supplier of industrial software, systems and control equipment," forecasts are looking strong, and there is a near-doubling of EPS being forecast for the year to March 2014. But at this early stage the share valuation is pretty high -- they're on a P/E of 24.

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Alan Oscroft has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. 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.

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