LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE ) set a 13-year high of 6,876 points on May 22, and since then it's been lurching from euphoria to panic on a regular basis, with 100-point swings becoming a near-daily occurrence. But at least things are a little quieter today, with the U.K.'s top-tier index up a relaxed 25 points, or 0.38%, to 6,652 as of 8:30 a.m. EDT.
A number of top companies have also been bouncing around their record share prices. Here are three toying with their peaks today.
BP (LSE: BP ) (NYSE: BP )
The BP share price has been hovering around a 52-week high of 485 pence all week. It's at 481 pence as I write, having approached 482 pence again around mid-morning. And over the past 12 months, BP shares have gained about 21% as panic from the Gulf of Mexico disaster subsides.
But after such a rise, what's the current valuation like? Well, with current forecasts for the year to December 2013 suggesting a 35% rise in earnings per share to about 54 pence, that puts the shares on a price-to-earnings ratio of less than nine. And though there is still some uncertainty surrounding the final cost of the oil spill cleanup, that looks cheap to me -- especially with a well-covered dividend yield of about 5% being predicted.
Whitbread (LSE: WTB )
Whitbread shares have been behaving similarly this week, hitting a 52-week intraday high of 2,905 pence on Tuesday before dropping back to 2,853 pence as I write. Over the past 12 months, the price of the hotel, restaurant, and coffee shop operator has soared by more than 50%.
Full-year results to Feb. 28 were impressive, with revenue up 14%, underlying pre-tax profit up 11.4%, and underlying EPS up 12% -- all enabling a 12% boost to the annual dividend. But that rise comes at a price, and the shares are now valued on a P/E of 17 based on forecasts for the current year.
Invensys (LSE: ISYS )
Engineering software and services specialist Invensys has seen its shares climb more than 80% over the past year to 399 pence today -- and in recent days we've seen regular closes around a record 400 pence mark. The year ended March 31 was described as "transformational" by the company after it disposed of Invensys Rail for £1.7 billion, settled its outstanding pension-scheme issues, and allocated £625 million in cash for return to shareholders.
With the firm now a "focused supplier of industrial software, systems and control equipment," forecasts are looking strong, and there is a near-doubling of EPS being forecast for the year to March 2014. But at this early stage the share valuation is pretty high -- they're on a P/E of 24.
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