LONDON -- According to analyst recommendations, Rio Tinto (LSE:RIO), Shire (LSE:SHP), and Experian (LSE:EXPN) are three of the most fancied shares in the FTSE 100. Are they set to rise further, or has enthusiasm peaked? Let's dig in.
Despite being so popular with the City, megaminer Rio Tinto has had a tough time of it. Concerns about the state of the Chinese economy have hit metal prices hard. This has forced analysts to reduce their profit expectations at Rio. As a result, the shares are down, falling 21% in the last three months.
The fall in metal prices demonstrates how vulnerable earnings are to issues outside Rio's control. In the last 12 months, consensus expectations for earnings per share at the company are down from $8.42 to $5.70.
The shares today trade on a forecast P/E for 2013 of 8.1, with an expected yield of 3.9%.
Experian is a financial data services company with a global footprint. As a leading supplier of credit check data, the business has enjoyed massive growth from the consumer credit boom. In the last five years, dividends per share have doubled as turnover has increased by about 50%.
Experian has long traded at a premium rating, and today the shares stand at an all-time high.
According to the consensus of broker forecasts, the company will earn 0.84 euros per share in 2013, rising to 0.97 euros the year after. That puts the shares on a 2014 P/E ratio of 19.8, with an expected dividend yield of 2%. Experian is significantly more highly rated by the market than the average FTSE 100 company -- a premium that it has earned.
Pharmaceutical giant Shire is one of the youngest companies in the FTSE 100. The shares have had a tough year and are barely ahead of where they stood 12 months ago. However, as one of the most successful blue-chip companies of recent times, Shire has built significant goodwill among the investor community.
Today, the shares stand on 14 times forecast earnings for 2013. Anticipated growth for 2014 pushes the P/E down to 12.4 times. The dividend, which has doubled in the last five years, is forecast to reach $0.20 this year. At today's price, that would translate to a 0.6% yield.
If you believe the company will keep delivering growth, then the shares are attractively priced.
Although Shire and Experian have grown handsomely in recent years, our team of analysts at The Motley Fool believes it has identified a superior growth opportunity. The company in question leads the world in some of its markets and has decades of history behind it. To read our team's research and analysis of this unique growth share, click here to get the 100% free report "The Motley Fool's Top Growth Share For 2013." The report will be delivered to your inbox immediately.
David O'Hara has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.