LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE ) is heading back toward its 52-week high of 5,989 points, having gained about 46 points to reach 5,884 today. Will the index of the U.K.'s largest companies beat that level before it falls out of the 52-week window? We have until March next year for that to happen.
Individual companies in the FTSE indexes hit new heights every day. Here are three shares that are powering on up.
Ashtead (LSE: AHT.L )
Ashtead Group shares reached a new 52-week high of 387 pence today, taking the price up more than 150% since its low point set almost a year ago. In that time, the rental-equipment provider published strong year-end results in June and followed up with impressive first-quarter figures in September.
Forecasts for the full year suggest earnings-per-share growth of 40% this year, but they also place the shares on a price-to-earnings ratio of 16, so it looks like a lot of the past undervaluation is already out.
Keller (LSE: KLR.L )
Engineer Keller Group has also had a great year, with its shares on a new 12-month high of 620 pence, cheering shareholders with a 258% rise from their low of 240 pence last December.
The firm's interim results released in July showed a threefold increase in pre-tax profit and EPS, though the dividend was maintained at 7.6 pence per share. There's a payout of about 3.7% forecast for the full year to December, though the shares are on a forward P/E of 16.
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GB Group (LSE: GBG.L )
IT and data services firm GB Group is our third today to hit a new 52-week high, reaching 101.7 pence. And again, that follows a terrific rise over the year, with the price up 150% on its low point of 41.3 pence. GB issued an interim trading update at the end of October, telling us it expects performance to be in line with current market expectations.
Those expectations suggest a small fall in EPS for the year to March 2013, with a subsequent rise of more than 20% for 2014, but they do put the shares on a P/E of 22. BG, then, is clearly priced for longer-term growth expectations.
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