LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (has been recovering a bit of late, but it is still a long way from hitting its 52-week high, reached on July 7 last year. Back then, the index of top U.K. shares reached 6,055 points, but at 5,668 today, it is down 6.4% from those lofty heights.
But there are companies doing their best to push the FTSE indexes back up to new highs, and we look at three reaching for the sky today.
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Well, it is if you invest in tobacco companies; British American Tobacco
And that comes after several years of steady rises. At its low point in 2009, the price stood at 1,495 pence, so it has now increased by 225%.
Does that mean the steam has run out and the shares are highly valued now? Not really. Forecasts for the full year suggest a price-to-earnings ratio of 15, which is around the long-term FTSE average, dropping to 14 next year. And there are dividends of 4% and 4.5% forecast, respectively.
Expectations for the next couple of years are looking good, too, with the shares on a forward P/E for April 2013 of 10.4, with a forecast dividend of 4.5%.
Others in the sector have had a good year as well, with Whitbread shares up 25% on the year to reach a 52-week high. But some have failed to deliver, including JD Wetherspoon, down 5%.
If these two sectors don't suit you -- if you don't like the uncertainty, or perhaps if you have ethical objections to investing in booze and tobacco -- then there are others that you might prefer. In fact, analysts at The Motley Fool have put together a free report -- "Top Sectors for 2012" -- just for you.
Aerospace and defense contractor QinetiQ
QinetiQ shares had slumped as the global crisis led to cutbacks and severely hit its profits, but there's been a return to form with strong profit forecasts for 2013 and 2014. The shares are currently on a forward P/E of 11. The dividend is creeping back, too, even if only a modest 2.2% is expected in 2013.
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Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.