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3 FTSE Shares Hitting New Highs: J Sainsbury plc, Informa PLC And DS Smith plc

The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) has been going largely sideways for the past couple of months, although September has seen it starting to creep back up again towards the 13-year record of 6,876 set in May. Improving economic indicators suggest the record should be beaten before too much longer, though ironically it will lead to the cutting of stimulus measures and downwards pressure on shares in the short term.

But there are always individual shares reaching new highs. Here are three from the indices leading the way today:

J Sainsbury

Of the FTSE’s big supermarkets, J Sainsbury (LSE: SBRY) has had the best year so far, with its shares up around 18% over the past 12 months and beating the index. That includes a rise of 2p today to a 52-week high of 402.7p. We’re only a few weeks away from the company’s first-half trading statement, due on 1 October, and if it’s in line with forecasts it should be good.

Analysts are predicting a 6% rise in earnings per share, putting the shares on a forward P/E of 12.5, and there’s a dividend yield of 4.4% forecast. That’s pretty much in line with the current valuation of rivals Tesco and Wm Morrison.

Informa

Shares in publishing and conference firm Informa (LSE: INF) have done even better, gaining 30% over the past 12 months to reach a high of 545p today. Steady years of dividend progress have helped boost the price, with 2012 seeing a 10% uplift in the annual payout and there’s a further rise of 6.5% forecast for this year, which should provide a yield of around 3.7%.

For the first-half to 30 June, Informa recorded a statutory loss of £56.3m, but that included a loss from discontinued operations of £115.7m. From continuing operations, we saw an adjusted operating profit rise of 2.7% with adjusted earnings per share (EPS) up 5%, and there was a 6.7% rise in the interim dividend.

DS Smith

DS Smith (LSE: SMDS) is the biggest riser of today’s three, with its shares up more than 50% over 12 months and reaching a high of 285.6p today. The recycled packaging supplier’s first-quarter update on 3 September told us that the year “has started well and in line with our plans“, although we were given little in the way of numbers.

But after a 36% rise in EPS last year, analysts are forecasting a further 22% this year, suggesting a P/E of around 13. The predicted 17.5% boost to the dividend would yield 3.4%.

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> Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares in Tesco and has recommended shares in Morrisons.