LONDON -- After a dreary week, the FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES:^FTSE) regained some of its earlier losses today, ending the trading session up 0.28% to 18 pence. But in a week that has seen fresh eurozone fears after a strong anti-austerity vote in the Italian election, the FTSE ending the week over 6,300 won't be a bad result.
If the FTSE 100 has yet to regain the 6,421-point record it set earlier this month, the same can't be said for many of its constituents. Here are three that are reaching new highs.
Diageo (LSE:DGE) (NYSE:DEO)
Shares in drinks giant Diageo closed on a new high of 1,980 pence yesterday, though they fell a bit to 1,972 pence today. The price is now up about 30% over the past 12 months, which is quite an achievement for a 50 billion pound blue-chip company. And over the longer term it's even better than that, with a steady 2.8-fold gain since a 733 pence low in 2009.
That's been possible due to Diageo's steady growth in earnings per share and dividends, right through the recession -- booze seems to be a sorrow-drowning defensive investment during hard times. The year to June is forecast to bring about 10% in earnings growth with a dividend yield of about 2.5% from shares on a P/E of 19.
Standard Chartered (LSE:STAN)
Banks are on the up, with Standard Chartered setting a new 52-week record close yesterday of 1,796 pence -- they closed today down to 1,781. Standard Chartered remained healthy throughout the crisis, increasing earnings per share every year with the exception of a fall in 2009, largely due to the bank's exposure to Asian markets which escaped the U.S. subprime crisis and the European crunch.
There's a further rise in earnings expected for the year ending December 2012, with the shares on a forward P/E of about 12 and a dividend yield of about 3% expected.
British Sky Broadcasting (LSE:SKY)
British Sky Broadcasting shares also reached a new record close yesterday, hitting 850.5 pence for a total 12-month gain of 26%. Forecasts for the year to June 2013 put the shares on a forward P/E of about 15, which might seem unduly average for a company that has increased its earnings per share for four straight years, with two further years of growth forecast.
Dividends have been rising steadily as well, with a hike of more than 10% forecast for 2013. That should provide a yield of 3.5%, and though it's not one of the biggest in the FTSE 100, it should be twice covered, and many income investors will value its dependability.
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