LONDON -- The FTSE 100
But in the real world of individual companies, the level of the index is pretty meaningless. Here are three companies from the various indexes that are currently trading around their 52-week highs.
Bloomsbury Publishing has had a great run over the past month and hit a new 52-week high of 145.7 pence on Wednesday before falling back a little to 144.25 pence. That takes the shares up 62% since their January low of 90 pence.
The reason? Well, preliminary results in May showed strongly rising turnover, pre-tax profit, and earnings per share, which allowed for a 10% increase in the annual dividend. And then July's interim update told us that business is in line for expectations, which suggests dividends of around 4% for the next couple of years, with shares on a forward price-to-earnings ratio of about 11.
Defense engineer QinetiQ has also been toying with its 52-week high again, and after briefly touching 172 pence on Aug. 3, it again exceeded the 170 pence mark on Tuesday. Today it's back down a little at 167 pence, but that's still a remarkable 49% gain on its 52-week low of 112 pence set in September last year.
A trading update in July told us of ongoing difficulties in the market, especially as governments seek to cut back expenditure, but the firm's fiscal year 2013 year has apparently started well, and the City is expecting modest earnings growth for the next two years from a share on a P/E of around 11.
In line with a strengthening insurance sector, Prudential has been testing new highs all month. From an October low of 495 pence, the shares touched a high of 824 pence last week and were hovering there before a small fall back to 797 pence at the time of writing. Overall, that's a 61% rise, which is pretty good for a 20 billion pound FTSE 100 company.
But what of the future? Analysts are expecting a dividend of 3.2% this year and 3.5% next from shares on a forward P/E of 12, falling to less than 11. That doesn't look stretching, but there are cheaper shares out there offering better dividends.
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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.