Diageo plc (LON: DGE), Standard Chartered PLC (LON: STAN) and British Sky Broadcasting Group plc (LON: BSY) end the week in style.
Just when the FTSE 100 looked like it was set to regain its earlier losses and end the week on an upbeat note, the index of top UK stocks has turned South and is 44 points down on 6,317 by early afternoon. But in a week that has seen fresh eurozone fears after a strong anti-austerity vote in the Italian election, the FTSE ending the week over 6,300 won't be a bad result.
If the FTSE 100 has still to regain the 6,421 record it set earlier this month, the same can't be said for many of its constituents. Here are three that are reaching new highs:
Shares in drinks giant Diageo (LSE: DGE) (NYSE: DEO.US) closed on a new high of 1,980p yesterday, and are down a few pennies to 1,977p at the time of writing. The price is now around 30% up over the past 12 months, which is quite an achievement for a £50 billion blue-chip company. And over the longer term it's even better than that, with a steady 2.8-fold gain since a 733p low in 2009.
That's been possible due to Diageo's steady growth in earnings per share and dividends, right through the recession -- booze seems to be a sorrow-drowning defensive investment during hard times. The year to June is forecast to bring around 10% in earnings growth with a dividend yield of around 2.5%, from shares on a P/E of 19.
Banks are on the up, with Standard Chartered (LSE: STAN) setting a new 52-week record close yesterday, of 1,796p -- the shares are down 30p on the day as I write. Standard Chartered remained healthy throughout the crisis, increasing earnings per share every year with the exception of a fall in 2009, largely due to the bank's exposure to Asian markets which escaped the US sub-prime crisis and the European crunch.
There's a further rise in earnings expected for the year ending December 2012, with the shares on a forward P/E of around 12 and with a dividend yield of about 3% expected.
British Sky Broadcasting
British Sky Broadcasting (LSE: BSY) shares reached a new record close too yesterday, of 850.5p, up 26% over the past 12 months. Forecasts for the year to June 2013 put the shares on a forward P/E of about 15, which might seem unduly average for a company that has increased its earnings per share for four straight years and with two further years of growth forecast.
Dividends have been rising steadily as well, with a hike of better than 10% forecast for 2013. That should provide a yield of 3.5%, and though it's not one of the biggest in the FTSE 100, it should be twice-covered, and many income investors will value its dependability.
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> Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares in Standard Chartered.