LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES:^FTSE) broke its record again today, reaching a 52-week intraday high of 6,489 points -- though by 10:10 a.m. EST it had fallen back to 6,463 for a 0.38% gain. That takes the index of the U.K.'s biggest companies up 10% over the past 12 months.
And there are individual constituents of the index that have far exceeded that achievement. Here are three that are breaking new ground today.
Reckitt Benckiser (LSE:RB)
Reckitt Benckiser shares opened on a new 52-week high of 4,642 pence today before dropping back to 4,601 pence. Shares in the consumer products giant have soared by 30% over the past 12 months, which is quite remarkable for a 33 billion pound FTSE 100 giant, and they're now on a forward P/E of 17.5 based on December 2013 forecasts.
That might seem a bit high for a company paying a mediocre dividend of about 3%, especially as there is no earnings growth expected this year and only a modest 6% forecast for the year ending December 2014.
Unilever (LSE:ULVR) (NYSE:UL)
Speaking of consumer products, Unilever shares have also been flying, hitting a fresh high of 2,738 pence today. The shares are currently on a price of 2,727 pence, which is 0.5% up on the day. And Unilever, which has a higher market cap than Reckitt Benckiser at 35 billion pounds, has enjoyed an even greater share-price rise, up 32% over the year.
Unilever's shares are also on a higher prospective valuation, with forecasts for December this year indicating a P/E of 19 -- although the predicted dividend yield, at 3.2%, is slightly higher. Whether these two shares are too highly priced is an interesting question, but the sector does not look like a screaming bargain right now.
Shares in advertising giant WPP are continuing their recent climb, reaching another new high of 1,096 pence today before falling back to 1,088 pence. And that's yet another 30% rise over the past year, with effectively all of it coming since November. Record results reported on March 1 provided more of a boost.
Forecasts put WPP shares on a more modest valuation than our other two today, with a P/E of less than 14 in the cards for the year to December 2013, dropping to 12.5 based on 2014 forecasts. And dividend predictions suggest respective yields of 3% and 3.3% for the two years.
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