LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) didn't manage to beat its 52-week high of 5,989 points before Christmas, but it broke that barrier on Dec. 27 to hit an intraday peak of 5,997 points. And today the index of top U.K. stocks has smashed through the 6,000 level, standing at 6,042 as of 10 a.m. EST, up 2.4% on the day.
Fools, of course, know that levels like 6,000 are pretty meaningless, as the actual number is just the result of a somewhat arbitrary calculation. It's individual companies that really matter, and a number of those are also hitting new highs today. Here are three.
HSBC (LSE:HSBA) (NYSE:HSBC)
HSBC shares have climbed around 30% since their low point during the summer, as the "pariah" ranking of banks is finally being cast off. The price currently stands at 666 pence, up 3% on the day, which is well above the prior 52-week high.
The outlook for HSBC looks pretty decent, too, with a 4% dividend forecast by the City for the year to December 2012, rising to 4.5% for 2013. Results for 2012 are due in March.
Bovis Homes (LSE:VTY)
Bovis Homes is benefiting from the recovery in the homebuilding business, with shares hitting a new high of 584 pence today. That's up 46% from their 52-week low of 399 pence set in June and nearly 80% up from the 326 pence low set in August 2011.
There's no real return to dividends expected yet from Bovis, but analysts are forecasting strong earnings growth for the year just ended and for 2013. We should have a trading update later this month, with 2012 results expected in February.
Associated British Foods (LSE:ABF)
Associated British Foods had a very good 2012, with its shares gaining 40% during the year. And today the price has regained its 52-week high of 1,586 pence, previously reached on Dec. 28. If you had bought shares back in March 2009 during the recessionary depths, you'd now be sitting on a 2.5-fold gain, which is pretty good for a player in such a relatively dull but essential business.
The shares do look highly valued right now, mind, on a forward price-to-earnings ratio of nearly 17 for the year to September 2013.
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