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LONDON -- It's little more than a month since the FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE ) set a new five-year record of 6,534 points on March 12. Yet after a few weeks of bearishness and some commentators even predicting a fall back below 6,000, that seems half a lifetime ago. Today the index of top U.K. shares is struggling to lift itself out of this week's mire, and up just 0.33% to 2,265 points by 10:10 a.m. EDT.
But companies from the various FTSE indexes are breaking new ground. Here are three reaching new highs today.
AstraZeneca (LSE: AZN ) (NYSE: AZN )
AstraZeneca shares perked up again today, putting on another 1.4% to reach a 52-week high of 3,383 pence, though at the time of writing the price has fallen back a little. This latest boost comes ahead of a first-quarter update due next week, with hopes high that new chief Pascal Soriot can return the drugs giant to winning ways.
Profit fell last year, and there's a drop in earnings per share forecast for 2013, but the shares are on a forward price-to-earnings ratio of a little less than 10, and there's a dividend yield in excess of 5% expected.
Telecom Plus (LSE: TEP )
Telecom Plus has been a huge success in recent years, with its shares up more than 70% over the past 12 months alone -- and they have four-bagged over the past three years. Today the price hit yet another 52-week high of 1,205 pence and is now down just a few pennies from that peak.
It's no real surprise that such an impressive growth share should be highly valued, and current expectations for the year to March suggest a P/E of more than 30 -- and it will take two more years for forecasts to bring that down to 23. That seems pricey to me, but I've been wrong about Telecom Plus before, and the rise has gone on long after I had expected it to falter.
Barratt Developments (LSE: BDEV )
Homebuilding is still in the ascendency, with Barratt Developments shares pushing new highs almost daily. Today the price hit 297 pence for its latest 52-week high and is just 2 pence below that at the time of writing. Overall, the Barratt price has more than doubled in the past 12 months.
The valuation is pretty high now, with forecasts indicating a forward P/E of 21, and there's not much dividend to speak of just yet. But Barratt shares are valued with a view to medium- to long-term expectations for the housing market, which are looking reasonably good.
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