3 Shares Hitting New Highs

LONDON -- Mixed economic sentiment is still keeping the FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE  ) from making big gains, with the index of top U.K. shares up 0.64% to 6,359 points as of 9:40 a.m. EST. But it's still up 7.3% since the start of the year, and even if it goes nowhere until December, that would still be a pretty respectable annual performance.

But what of the individual constituents of the various indexes? Here are three that are reaching new records.

ITV has seen its share price storm back since the depths of the recession, providing shareholders with a six-bagger since early 2009. The shares are also up more than 50% over the past 12 months, having closed on a new 52-week high yesterday of 120.3 pence -- as I write, they're up 1.7% to 122.3 pence.

After slumping to a loss in 2008 and canceling dividends for the next two years, ITV has returned to profit. Earnings for 2011 were back up to 7.9 pence per share, and the firm resumed its dividend payouts. Analysts expect a further 10% rise in earnings for December 2012 and a 2% dividend yield. Results are due on Feb. 27.

Laura Ashley (LSE: ALY  )
Shares in Laura Ashley also closed at a new high of 29.5 pence yesterday, though they've dropped back to 28.8 pence today. The shares are up nearly 40% on the year, with the bulk of that coming after the home furnishings firm announced a 14% rise in half-year profit in September. U.K. retail sales were up 6%, with online sales up 21%.

Estimates for the full year to January 2013 put the shares on a price-to-earnings ratio of about 14 -- around the FTSE average. There's a dividend yield of almost 7% predicted, though that would consume the company's entire forecast earnings of 2 pence per share.

Restaurant Group (LSE: RTN  )
Restaurant Group shares closed yesterday on a high of 390 pence, up nearly 30% on the year. The firm, which owns Frankie & Benny's, Chiquito, and Garfunkel's, announced a first-half rise in revenue of 7.5% in August, with pre-tax profit up 7% and earnings per share up 10%.

Full-year expectations reflect that: An overall 8% rise in earnings is predicted, and there's a twice-covered dividend yield of 3% in the cards. Results are due on Feb. 27.

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