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3 FTSE Shares Hitting New Highs: William Hill plc, Daily Mail and General Trust plc And Whitbread plc

The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) is way off its 13-year high of 6,876 points set on 22 may these days, standing at 6,275 points at the time of writing — 33 down on the day. The punters appear to be worried about Europe again, ahead of the next meeting of the European Central Bank.

But we do see some of our large companies reaching for new heights. Here are three that are setting new records:

William Hill

Shares in bookmaker William Hill (LSE: WMH) reached a new 52-week high of 457.5p yesterday, coming within half a penny of it again this morning before dropping back a little to 449p at the time of writing — the price is now up around 70% over the past 12 months.

Profits have been rising nicely over the past couple of years, and there’s earnings per share (EPS) growth of around 7% currently being forecast for the year to December 2013. And despite the excellent share price growth of the past year, the shares are still only on a forward P/E of under 16 for this year, dropping to 14.5 based on 2014 estimates.

Daily Mail and General Trust

Daily Mail and General Trust (LSE: DMGT) shares hit a 52-week record of 790p today, after being boosted yesterday after Viscount Rothermere announced an offer for a stake in the Daily Mail publisher. Things are complicated by the company’s dual-share listing, but it effectively amounts to an offer of 874p per ordinary share.

The share price is actually up around 80% over the past year, partly boosted by positive interim results announced in May. Adjusted pre-tax profit gained 30% to £137m, and the first-half dividend was lifted by 5%. Net debt did rise, though, by £111m to £724m. But the full-year outlook is apparently unchanged, suggesting a rise in EPS of around 4%.

Whitbread

Shares in Whitbread (LSE: WTB) have been soaring of late, and today climbed to a new high of 3,180p — taking them up more than 50% over the past 12 months. The owner of the UK’s Premier Inn and Costa Coffee chains revealed an impressive first quarter a couple of weeks ago, reporting total revenue up 13.8% for the 13 weeks to 30 May. Costa delivered the lion’s share of that, with sales growth of 24.8%.

Forecasts for the full year to February 2014 are looking good, with analysts expecting to see nearly 20% growth in EPS — and there’s a further 11% penciled in for 2015. Dividends are modest, mind, at around the 2% level.

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> Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article.