LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE ) finished last week heading toward its 52-week high of 5,989 points, but it has slipped back a bit today, falling 26 points to 5,842. But that's still only 147 points shy of its annual peak, and there's still time to see it beaten before 2012 is out.
Individual companies in the FTSE indexes hit new heights every day. Here are three shares that are heading that way.
Prudential (LSE: PRU.L )
Shares in FTSE 100 life insurer Prudential are pushing against their high point again after the price ended at 859 pence on Friday. That's not far below October's 52-week high of 870 pence, and with the price having been on a steady climb since June, I wouldn't bet against that peak being surpassed pretty soon.
With forecasts strong, there could well be more to come. Analysts put the shares on a full-year price-to-earnings ratio of 12.5, falling to 11 next year, and there's a dividend in excess of 3% expected.
Reckitt Benckiser (LSE: RB.L )
Consumer brand giant Reckitt Benckiser is reaching new high ground after its shares finished Friday on a new 52-week high of 3,783 pence. That's up 23% on the price's low point of 3,100 pence set in November 2011, making 2012 a pretty nice year for shareholders.
Firms making consumer staples, like Reckitt Benckiser and Unilever, are often considered good "safety" shares during hard times, as they tend to be fairly reliable payers of dividends. Reckitt Benckiser kept its dividend growing during the downturn, and Unilever had only one down year in 2009. The shares of both are doing well this year.
Shares with growing dividends can be very profitable, and ace dividend investor Neil Woodford knows a thing or two about finding the best payers. The free Motley Fool report "8 Shares Held By Britain's Super Investor" takes a look at some of his largest holdings and the investment logic behind them. Click here to get a copy delivered to your inbox.
Bovis Homes (LSE: BVS.L )
Bovis Homes is the latest of the U.K.'s homebuilders to hit the heights, reaching a peak today of 522.5 pence -- just short of its recent 52-week high of 524 pence. At that price, the shares are up more than 30% since the beginning of June.
And while earnings are still way below pre-slump levels, we have had two years of strong recovery, and two more such years are forecast: The City is expecting to see earnings-per-share growth of 60% this year and another 40% in 2013.
Recovering sectors like homebuilding can give you a nice boost toward reaching your first million from shares, and it really can be a realistic target. This Motley Fool report takes a look at how make the big money. Click here to get your free copy now.
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