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3 FTSE Shares Hitting New Highs: Legal & General Group Plc, Shire PLC and Inchcape plc

The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) is having another good week, up 98 points to 6,721 since last Friday’s close of 6,623. That takes London’s top index within just 155 points of May’s 13-year record level of 6,876, and there’s an increasingly strong chance that record will be shattered before this year is out.

Which companies are helping the FTSE to new heights? Here are three that are breaking new ground:

Legal & General

Legal & General Group (LSE: LGEN) shares hit a 52-week high of 215.8p yesterday, dropping back a little to 212p by late morning today. That takes the shares up nearly 60% over the past 12 months, which is very good even for the resurgent insurance sector.

First-half results in August were strong, with a 13% rise in earnings per share (EPS) enabling the company to lift its interim dividend by 22%. Forecasts for the full year are looking good too, with an 11% rise in EPS current indicated. And if the final dividend enjoys a similar 22% hike, we’ll see 9.3p per share for a yield of 4.4%.

Shire

Shire (LSE: SHP) shares soared this week, reaching a record of 2,829p this morning, after the specialist pharmaceuticals firm released a strong third-quarter update yesterday. Revenue for the period rose by 12% to $1.24bn, with earnings per share up 30% to $1.77.

The firm’s full-year guidance was upped, with chief executive, Flemming Ornskov, M.D., saying “I am delighted to be increasing our 2013 full year earnings guidance to delivering mid-to-high teens Non GAAP earnings growth“.

Shire shares are now up 55% over the past 12 months.

Inchcape

A third-quarter update from car dealer Inchcape (LSE: INCH) yesterday gave its shares a boost, sending them to a record close of 644.5p after hitting 655p during the day. Today they’re back a bit from that on 642p, but that’s still more than 60% up over a year.

The company reported “robust growth across all categories“, with Q3 revenue up 7% to £1.63bn at actual currency rates — at constant rates it climbed 7.8%. Like-for-like revenue gained 3.5% (or 4.2% at constant currency).

New car sales came in ahead of last year, as expected, and the firm’s used car business also performed well.

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