LONDON -- The FTSE 100 was hovering around the 6,300 mark all morning but has now risen 49 points to 6,323, flirting with its latest 52-week high of 6,355 points, set on Wednesday. But even after a 6.4% rise in the index of the U.K.'s biggest companies during January, sentiment still seems to be positive during these times of little concrete economic news.
And even if it's been two days since the FTSE broke new ground, there are still plenty of individual companies climbing to new heights. We take a look at three of them.
Shares in media giant ITV have jumped 2% to hit a new 52-week high of 117 pence. That takes the price up more than 50% over the past 12 months -- and the shares have more than six-bagged since the depths of 2009.
Since then, ITV's performance has come back strongly with impressive earnings-per-share growth and a resumption of divided payments in 2011. Expectations for the year to December 2012 suggest a further 10% rise in earnings and a 2% dividend yield, with the shares on a price-to-earnings ratio of 13. Results for the year should be with us on Feb. 27.
Dunelm Group also reached a 52-week high this morning of 772 pence, though the shares have dropped back to 762 pence later in the day. The soft-furnishings supplier has seen its shares soar by more than 60% over the past year after reporting double-digit earnings growth for five straight years. The dividend has been raised strongly as well, and there should be more to come.
Forecasts for the year to June 2013 predict another 12% rise in earnings and another nice boost to the dividend -- albeit to a yield of only 2%, with the shares on a relatively lofty P/E of 19. We're expecting half-year results on Feb. 12.
Pace has reached a new high of 228 pence today, pushing the share price up a massive 150% over the past 12 months. The digital TV specialist has gone from strength to strength in recent years, though a 20% fall in earnings per share last year caused a slump in the price. But there's a return to growth expected for the year to December 2012, followed by forecasts of double-digit earnings growth for the subsequent two years. And even after the recent price rise, Pace shares are still only on a P/E of 11, dropping to a forecast 9.7 for the end of 2013.
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