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3 FTSE Shares Hitting New Highs: National Express Group PLC, Arbuthnot Banking Group Plc And Ricardo plc

The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) looks like it could be putting in its third straight week of falls, dropping a further 30 points so far today to 6,470 after losing 83 points last week. That’s not really what we want if the index is to beat the 13-year high it set in May before the year is out — but on the bright side, the index of top UK stocks is still a long way ahead of its 52-week low of 5,606 from last November.

Individual FTSE shares are, however, still breaking new ground. Here are three from the various indices setting new records:

National Express

National Express Group (LSE: NEX) shares hit a new 52-week high of 262.5p today, before dropping back a little to 261p by early afternoon. The share price has been on a bit of a rally of late, gaining 32% since the start of June. Overall, that makes up for the late-2012 slump, and the price is now slightly ahead of the FTSE with a rise of around 18% over 12 months.

First-half results released on 24 July certainly helped, showing a modest 2.4% rise in revenue, although statutory pre-tax profit was reported as 14% down. Still, the firm did lift its interim dividend slightly to 3.25p per share, as chief executive Dean Finch told us at the time that “We are determined to make further progress on our debt reduction target and are pleased by our excellent cash generation“.

Arbuthnot

It’s not just the big high-street banks that have been rewarding shareholders, as shares in Arbuthnot Banking Group (LSE: ARBB) have more than doubled over the past 12 months to finish Friday on a new closing high of 1,077.5p.

There is a fall in earnings per share (EPS) forecast for the full year, with the shares on a forward P/E of nearly 26 based on that. That might sound a bit high, but Arbuthnot’s profits are not smoothly distributed and EPS is expected to double again in 2014, halving the P/E to 13. There’s also a modest dividend yield of around 2.5% to be had.

Ricardo

Industrial consulting firm Ricardo (LSE: RCDO) has seen its shares soar since the start of July, by 27% to a new 52-week high of 479p today — and over the past 12 months, the price is up 33%. But even after that growth, we’re still only looking at a P/E of 13 based on expectations for the year to June, falling to 12 for a year hence.

Results should be with us on 9 September, after a trading update last month told us the firm expected results for the year to exceed the then-current market expectations. Dividends should yield around 3%.

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