LONDON -- Another day, another record: The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE ) rose 0.11% today to a fresh 52-week closing high of 6,510.6. The index of the U.K.'s biggest companies was boosted by a few gains in mining, banking, and the travel and leisure sector.
When the index is flying, some individual companies must be as well. Here are three shares setting new records today.
British American Tobacco (LSE: BATS ) (NYSEMKT: BTI )
Smoking might be bad for your health, but it's good for your money if you invest in British American Tobacco, whose shares peaked at a new 52-week high today of 3,639 pence before dropping back to 3,613 pence. The price has soared by 16% since the start of the year, boosted by a 26% rise in earnings per share for the year to December 2012. Although revenue rose, the actual number of cigarettes sold fell. So what does the future hold for the business? Will profits keep rising, or have tobacco sales peaked? That's for investors to decide.
easyJet (LSE: EZJ )
The easyJet share price is up almost 150% over the past 12 months, today reaching a new 52-week high of 1,078 pence before closing at 1,064 pence. The budget airline's recent entry to the FTSE 100 hasn't hurt, as index tracker funds need to rebalance their portfolios and buy the new shares.
January's first-quarter update helped as well, of course, showing a 9.2% rise in revenue to 833 million pounds. That came from a combination of higher passenger numbers and higher revenue per seat. The easyJet share price has now more than tripled from the 310 pence price the shares were first offered at back in 2000.
London Stock Exchange (LSE: LSE )
The London Stock Exchange was itself one the recent new entrants to its own top-flight index, having seen its share price soar by 46% since the start of the year. And today the price touched another new 52-week high of 1,431 pence before dropping to 1,414 pence at the close -- still up 1.4% for the day.
This year's bullish market has certainly helped. Though current forecasts for the year ending March 2013 suggest flat earnings, individual estimates are wildly disparate, and sentiment will surely be boosted if it turns out we're at the start of a sustainable bull run.
Even if your shares aren't hitting new highs like these three, dividends can add nicely to your investment returns -- they can be spent or reinvested according to your needs. Whether you're investing for income or growth, good old cash is always welcome. And that's why I recommend the brand-new Fool report "The Motley Fool's Top Income Share For 2013," in which our top analysts identify a share that they believe will provide handsome dividend income for years to come. But it will only be available for a limited period, so click here to get your copy today.