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3 FTSE Shares Hitting New Highs: Aviva plc, DS Smith plc and London Stock Exchange Group Plc

The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) looks set to end the year around its current level of 6,750, which is only 126 points short of the 13-year record of 6,876 points set in May. Over the week so far the index is still flat, so we’ll have to wait to see if we’re to get three weeks of rises in a row.

But we do have a bullish mood boosting several sectors at the moment. Here are three shares setting new records:

Aviva

The insurance sector is having a great time right now, as a number of constituents reach new highs. Aviva (LSE: AV) (NYSE: AV.US) is one of them, with its shares hitting 452p today to take them back within a penny of their 52-week high set in November.

Aviva shares are up around 20% over the whole of the year, ahead of the FTSE’s 14%, but that has come mostly during the second half — from a low of 292p in April, the price is now up 55%.

And looking forward, the consensus valuation is not onerous — current forecasts for 2014 suggest a P/E of just 9.5, with a 3.6% dividend yield coming in ahead of the FTSE average.

DS Smith

DS Smith (LSE: SMDS) has had an even better year, with its shares soaring to a new record of 333p today — that’s a gain of more than 60% over 12 months.

The supplier of recycled packaging recorded a 36% rise in earnings per share (EPS) to April 2013, and there’s a further 20% growth forecast for the current year. Half-year results released on 5 December revealed a 30% EPS rise for the period, and the firm lifted its interim dividend by 28%.

There’s currently a 20% earnings rise penciled in for 2015 too, so a rise that’s taken the share price up nearly tenfold since a 2009 low of 33.5p could well have further to go.

London Stock Exchange

All this renewed stock market activity and fresh bullishness has given London Stock Exchange Group (LSE: LSE) itself a nice boost, taking its price to a new high of 1,736p today for an annual gain of close to 60%.

The first six months of the current year saw revenue rise by 44% to £504m, with adjusted operating profit up 6% to £230m. Adjusted EPS for the period actually dropped a little, down 7% to 48.2p, but the interim dividend was raised by 4% to 10.1p per share.

Full-year forecasts to March 2014 suggest a 5% drop in EPS, putting the shares on a P/E of 17 with a dividend yielding less than 2%. There’s 10% earnings growth predicted for 2015, but LSE shares are looking high enough to me just now.

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