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3 FTSE Shares Hitting New Highs: NEXT plc, IMI plc and ASOS plc

The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) dropped in morning trading today, but by shortly after midday it had regained its losses to stand 4 points up at 6,756 — and 21 points up on the week so far. There’s plenty of uncertainty around after the eurozone recovery was reported to be still fragile, and we await US GDP data which will provide one of the key inputs to the next quantitative easing decision.

Meanwhile, with the FTSE now just 120 short of May’s 13-year high of 6,876 points, a good few individual shares are setting records of their own. Here are three:

NEXT

NEXT (LSE: NXT) is a regular high-flyer these days, ending yesterday on a new 52-week closing high of 5,510p — and then beating that today as it hit 5,565p.

That’s a climb of more than 50% over the 12 months, after a rise in third-quarter Next Brand sales of 4.3% reported last week took the shares to a new level. The firm now predicts a full-year rise in earnings per share of between 15% and 21%, with the mid-point of the range putting the shares on a forward P/E of 16 — and that’s only a little above the FTSE’s long-term average of 14, so there may well be more to come.

IMI

Diversified engineer IMI (LSE: IMI) has enjoyed a strong 12 months, with a gain of more than 60% to reach a 52-week high of 1,567p today — and it’s up nearly 90% over two years.

That rise has taken its toll on the P/E rating, with forecasts for the full year suggesting a multiple of 18 — although 2014 predictions would drop that to 16.5, and if we have a couple more years of earnings growth then today’s valuation might not be too stretching.

Halftime results to 30 June showed a 4% rise in adjusted earnings per share leading to an 8% rise in the dividend, with chairman Roberto Quarta saying that “We continue to anticipate better trading conditions in the remainder of the year“.

ASOS

It’s back to fashion for our third high-riser today, as shares in online pioneer ASOS (LSE: ASC) climbed to a 52-week record of 5,999p this morning before dropping back a couple of percent to 5,829p by noon.

After the shares crashed back from 2011 highs of around 2,400p it looked like maybe the wheels were coming off the growth story, but since the end of that year we’ve had a relentless climb, with annual results released last month showing yet another massive sales growth — of 40% this time to £753m.

I’m not going to try to call the end of the optimism just yet, but the shares are on a forward P/E of a stunning 92 for 2014 — earnings would still have to grow more than six-fold to bring that back near the FTSE’s average of 14.

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