LONDON -- And again, the FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE ) has started the morning by beating its previous five-and-a-half-year record set yesterday, rising 0.14% to 6,695 points by 8 a.m. EDT. If the top-tier index maintains its current level until today's close, the latest upward run will have taken it above 6,600 for four consecutive days, above 6,500 for eight days, and above 6,400 for 14 days.
Here are three companies helping to boost the indexes today.
First-half results sent shares in Compass Group up 1.1% to 880 pence this morning after the food services firm revealed a 4.1% rise in revenue to 8.8 billion pounds. Pre-tax profit was up 8.1% to 611 million pounds, with earnings per share up 10.9% to 24.5 pence. That was enough for an interim dividend lift of 11.1% to 8 pence per share. A similar hike in the final dividend would give us a full-year payment of about 23.6 pence, for a yield of 2.7%.
Business in North America was good, with organic revenue growth of 8.2% recorded, and there was even stronger growth in fast-growing and emerging markets of 10.5%. In addition to a healthy rise in the divided (albeit from a relatively low level), the firm is on track to buy back shares to the value of 400 million pounds by year-end.
It was interim time at easyJet, too, and this time the result was a 6% rise in the share price to 1,200 pence -- and that takes the shares up about 130% over the past 12 months. Losses during the winter season, when demand is low, fell by 45% to 61 million pounds, which is pretty good going, especially as it came from revenue that was up 9.3% to 1.6 billion pounds.
In addition to an increase in load and capacity, revenue per seat for the period was up 8.6% on a constant-currency basis (or 5.8% as reported). Looking to the full year, eazyJet already has 50% of its seats booked, and trading is said to be in line with expectations.
Barratt Developments (LSE: BDEV )
Barratt Developments shares have perked up 4% after the homebuilder announced a "comprehensive" refinancing package and the monetization of some of the group's shared-equity portfolio to the value of 34 million pounds.
In addition to committed borrowing facilities of around 850 million pounds at "attractive terms," the deal will also see Barratt paying off some high-cost financing early and the firm's underlying average interest rate decreasing to about 4.5%. Barratt says it is still on track to achieve zero net debt by June 30, 2015.
Finally, if you're looking for investments that should take you all the way to a comfortable retirement, I recommend the Fool's special new report detailing five blue-chip shares. They'll be familiar names to many, and they've already provided investors with decades of profits. But the report will only be available for a limited period, so click here to get your hands on these great ideas -- they could set you on the road to long-term riches.