Lloyds Banking Group PLC (LON: LLOY), Carnival plc (LON: CCL) and easyJet plc (LON: EZJ) set new records.
The FTSE 100 came close to its recent peak last night, closing on 6,338 points, but has dropped back 25 points to 6,313 at the time of writing. The banking sector has been helping to keep the UK's top tier index up, after Barclays shares flew yesterday on the back of a 26% rise in profits.
And banks are in the news again today. We look at three FTSE companies scaling new heights:
Lloyds Banking Group (LSE: LLOY) (NYSE:LYG.US) is the latest of our big banks to reach a new record, with its shares closing on a 52-week high of 55.45p yesterday, before dropping back a little today to 54.7p. Forecasts for the year ending December 2012 suggest a pre-tax profit of nearly £2 billion, and the bank's third-quarter update reported underlying profit of £1.9 billion for the nine months, so that's looking promising.
But the real return to pre-crash profits isn't expected until 2013 and beyond, with around £3 billion predicted this year and £4 billion for 2014. On 2012 expectations, the price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio is a high 20, but that falls to 13 and then 10 for the next two years. Results for 2012 are expected on 1 March.
Shares in cruise operator Carnival (LSE: CCL) closed on a new high yesterday as well, of 2,628p, though they have fallen back this morning to 2,604p. That's still a rise of around 35% over the past 12 months, putting the shares on a P/E of 17 based on forecasts for the year to November 2013.
This comes after a couple of years of falling earnings for the owner of the ill-fated Costa Concordia liner, and reflects growing confidence in the travel and leisure sector in general. Full-year dividend yield is expected to be around 2.7%.
And in the same sector, easyJet (LSE: EZJ) shares are up to a 52-week high of 992p as I write, having peaked as high as 997p during the morning. Overall, the price has more than doubled over the past 12 months, reinforcing the new management strategy forced through by Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou.
After recording growing earnings per share for three straight years, forecasts suggest a further rise of around 25% this year, putting the shares on a P/E of 13. Is that high for an airline? Well, it's a risky business, but easyJet has rewarded shareholders so far.
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> Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article.