LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES:^FTSE) is extending this week's gains, hitting a new 52-week record of 6,458 points this morning before falling back to 6,450 for a 0.28% gain. Generally positive economic sentiment, coupled with a week of strong company results, appears to be behind the current optimism.
But which individual companies are setting records? Here are three doing it today.
Tesco (LSE:TSCO) (NASDAQOTH:TSCDY)
Tesco shares shot up 2.7% to reach a new 52-week high of 382 pence this morning before dropping back a couple of pennies to 380 pence. Tesco shares famously slumped early last year following weak Christmas trading, but since October, the firm's revamp policy has been convincing investors, and the price has been recovering well.
Although the year to February 2013 is expected to show a 16% decline in earnings, that still puts the shares on a modest price-to-earnings ratio of 12, and there's a 4% dividend expected. And the City is expecting a return to growth over the following two years.
Shares in Barratt Developments have soared more than 80% over the past 12 months, and today they regained their 52-week high of 244.6 pence. All of the FTSE's big homebuilders have been recovering well, and Barratt reported a doubling of pre-tax profit to 46 million pounds for the six months ending December 2012.
If full-year expectations come good, we should see a 70% rise in earnings, putting the shares on a P/E of about 17 -- but that should fall to 12 based on 2014 forecasts. And June 2013 should bring us a return to dividends, albeit a small one of about 1% this time -- but it'll be nice to see it back.
From basket case to recovery star, that's been the Dixons Retail story. The shares have more than tripled since their low point at the end of 2011 to reach a 52-week high of 31.6 pence today. The company's turnaround strategy has met with impressive success, leading to a bumper 2012 Christmas. And last year's pre-tax loss is expected to turn into a modest profit this year, with a further earnings rise of about 80% penciled in for 2014. P/E ratios don't make much sense in the year a company returns to profit, but 2014 forecasts suggest a figure of 14, falling to 10 for 2015.
Dividends can add nicely to your investment returns -- they can be spent or reinvested according to your needs. Whether you're investing for income or growth, good old cash is always welcome. And that's why I recommend the brand-new Fool report "The Motley Fool's Top Income Share For 2013," in which our top analysts identify a share they believe will provide handsome dividend income for years to come. But it will only be available for a limited period, so click here to get your copy today.