TalkTalk (LSE: TALK) and Telecom Plus (LSE: TEP) lead a must-have sector.
The FTSE 100 (UKX) has had a torrid quarter, with its ups and downs in response to ongoing world and eurozone crises leaving it with an overall fall of 200 points, to around 5,570 at the end of June.
A bad time to invest in the stock market then? Not a bit of it. You don't need bull markets to make money, you just need to find the top-performing companies.
We've been looking at three of the biggest FTSE risers over the quarter...
Top telecoms mover
TalkTalk (LSE: TALK), which has been heavily promoting its competitvely priced broadband offerings, has been one of the most profitable shares of the past quarter, going from 136.5p at the end of March, to end June at 191p -- that's a 40% rise in just three months!
Full-year results released on 17 May gave it a sharp boost, up by 26p to 159p, for a 20% leap on the day. What we saw was strong growth in earnings per share (eps) and operating cash flow.
But perhaps most importantly for shareholders, the dividend was raised by 61% to 6.4p per share, and the company announced a target of at least 15% dividend growth for 2013 and 2014.
Targeting growing dividends brings TalkTalk in line with its competitors, like BT (LSE: BT-A), which is targeting 10-15% dividend growth for the next three years.
Gas and electricity with that?
Telecom Plus (LSE: TEP), which bundles telecoms in with water, gas and electricity, has had a great quarter as well, with its share price up by 163p (24%) to 854p in the past three months.
That did follow a previous quarter that saw the share price fall, but over the past 12 months it's up 25% overall, and it has more than four-bagged over the past five years.
Telecom Plus's unique selling point is its unusual marketing strategy. Trading as Utilities Warehouse, it employs no sales staff, has no shops and does no advertising. Instead, its customers act as agents to spread the word and attract new business. It's a strategy that clearly works.
Telecoms appears to be a must-have FTSE sector these days. But if you want more ideas of undervalued sectors that should do well in the long term, I'd recommend you get a free copy of the Motley Fool report "Top Sectors Of 2012", in which the Fool's top analysts share their thoughts.
What does Perform Group (LSE: PER) do? Well, other than growing its share price by 70p to 380p over the past quarter, for a gain of 22%, its a digital media company specialising in sports coverage, offering services in a number of countries.
And that 22% rise for the quarter isn't the end -- the shares have soared by more than 80% in the past 12 months, with forecasts of eps growth of 75% for this year, and another 50% pencilled in for 2013.
It's not paying a dividend yet, but what we have is a classic growth company story.
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> Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article.