LONDON -- The FTSE 100
But even if the level itself isn't important, it's good to see the blue-chip index moving further and further from the year's low of 4,944 in October.
Of course, individual shares in the FTSE indexes are reaching new 52-week highs every day. Here are three that have achieved that feat this week.
Though there are quite a few shares hitting new highs right now, I'm picking Next as my first example, as I think it's a good indicator of the recovering retail sector. Next shares hit a 52-week high of 3,548 pence on Thursday.
I examined the retail sector recently, and a few of the shares I looked at have done well since then, but none so well as Next. In my experience, Next is a well-managed company that has always been at the head of its sector. The shares have gained 10% in August alone.
City forecasts put the shares on a forward P/E of 13 for the current year, which is perhaps not low in these times, but it falls to 11.7 for next year -- and the best companies are rarely lowly valued.
Pace can't do anything wrong at the moment, it seems, as the set-top box specialist achieved another new high of 166 pence on Thursday. It all started with interim results released on July 24, and although they told of a tough first half hit by a world shortage of hard disks, the outlook appeared positively glowing. There was also a 15% boost to the first-half dividend.
Since those results, the shares have rallied 45%. But even after that impressive rise, current forecasts still put the shares on a forward P/E of 9.9, falling to 8.1 for 2013 -- so even now they're not looking overpriced.
It was nice to see Vodafone hit a new high of 191.7 pence on Wednesday, as it's a constituent of our Beginners' Portfolio, having been picked when the shares were selling for 168.5 pence. Vodafone shares have, in fact, gained 17% in a strong surge since May's low of 164.3 pence, and current forecasts are looking strong.
Forecast P/E ratios for March 2013 and March 2014 stand at 11.9 and 11.4, respectively, which would probably represent fair value right now. But add in an estimated dividend yield of about 7%, coupled with Vodafone's plan to raise its payout by at least 7% per year, and the shares still look cheap to me.
Finally, if you want to find good dividend-paying shares such as Vodafone, the free Motley Fool report "8 Shares Held By Britain's Super Investor" takes a look at ace investor Neil Woodford's major holdings. The report could be just what you need in these uncertain times. Click here to enjoy your free copy while it's still available.
Further Motley Fool investment opportunities:
Alan Oscroft does not own any shares mentioned in this article. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Vodafone Group. 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.