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3 FTSE Shares Hitting New Highs: Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC, Shire PLC and Halma plc

By midday Wednesday it was looking as if the FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) was going to end the week another step closer to that 13-year record of 6,876 points set in May, by putting in its fifth weekly rise in a row. But the index of top UK stocks has slipped since then, and is currently 74 points down on the week at 6,556, and 320 points away from that record.

But which individual shares have been breaking records of their own? Here are three flying high today:

Rolls-Royce

Shares in Rolls-Royce Holdings (LSE: RR) finished Thursday on a 52-week closing high of 1,240p — though the price has dipped a bit today, standing at 1,181p by mid-afternoon. Over the past 12 months, that’s a 33% rise, comfortably beating the FTSE’s gain of around 20%. But it does push the firm’s forward P/E up to nearly 19 based on forecasts for the year to December 2013.

Is there more to come? Well, Rolls-Royce shares have been creeping up in valuation over the past few years, but that has been supported by growing earnings, and quality companies do tend to score above the FTSE average P/E of 14 or so. Still, with a dividend yield of under 2%, I can’t help feeling there are better bargains out there.

Shire

The price of Shire (LSE: SHP) shares spiked up to a 12-month closing high of 2,339p on Thursday, and was briefly above that at 2,358p in early morning trading Friday, before dropping back a bit to 2,330p in the afternoon. Yesterday’s boost came from figures for the quarter to 30 June, which showed a 7% rise in product sales with the pharmaceuticals firm anticipating double-digit growth in underlying earnings for the full year.

Over the past 12 months, Shire shares have put on more than 20%, and the price has trebled since early 2009. There’s not been much in the way of dividends, though, with the annual yield steady at around 0.5%. But there’s strong growth in earnings forecast for this year and next, with a P/E for December of 16, dropping to 14 for 2014.

Halma

Halma (LSE: HLMA) has had a great year, with the price of the safety equipment specialist putting on a third to reach a 42-week high of 543p today — the shares are trading at 540p as I write. The firm topped a five-year run of rising earnings and dividends with an EPS boost of 7% for the year to March 2013, which in turn led to a 7% hike in the annual dividend for a modest yield of 2%.

The City is currently expecting to see a further 8% added to EPS for the current year, with another 7% on the dividend, though the yield would stay about the same. Like Rolls-Royce, Halma is seen as a pretty good quality company, and its shares command a P/E of nearly 19.

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