3 FTSE Shares Hitting New Highs: BT Group plc, J Sainsbury plc And ICAP plc

BT Group plc (LON: BT.A), J Sainsbury plc (LON: SBRY) and ICAP plc (LON: IAP) are all on the up.

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The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) hit a seven-week high of 6,658 today, and stands at 6,645 at the time of writing — 21 points up on the day. Positive noises from China have provided a boost today, as the UK’s top-drawer index slowly chips away at the 13-year record of 6,876 points it set on 22 May.

But more and more individual companies have been reaching new highs in recent weeks. Lets take a quick look at three of them, two FTSE 100 shares and one from the FTSE 250:

BT Group

BT Group (LSE: BT-A) (NYSE: BT.US) shares climbed to a new 52-week high today, of 348.5p, taking the price up around 55% over the past 12 months. For the year ending 31 March 2013, BT saw revenues fall 5%, but adjusted pre-tax profit rose by 11% to £2.7bn with adjusted earnings per share up 12% to 26.6p — and the annual dividend was lifted by 14% to 9.5p.

But is BT still a bargain? Well, the shares are on a modest forward P/E of about 14 for 2014 forecasts, and the dividend is a pretty average 3.2%. But BT has quite high debt, which stood at £7.8bn at year-end, and there’s always the millstone that is its massive pension fund.

J Sainsbury

Shares in J Sainsbury (LSE: SBRY) have gained more than 25% over the past year, reaching a 52-week high of 401p today — over the same period, Tesco shares have gained only 15%, on a more volatile ride. Year after year of earnings and dividend rises have been a great help for Sainsbury, and the City is currently forecasting EPS rises of 6% a year for the next two years, on top of a 9% rise reported for the year to March 2013.

This year gave us a 4.6% dividend yield from Sainsbury, and though forecasts suggest a 3.6% rise in the payout for next year to 17.3p per share, the risen share price does drop the yield to 4.4% — but that’s still pretty good, and there’s a forward P/E of only around 12.5.


Our third record-breaker for today is wholesale broker ICAP (LSE: IAP), whose shares have gained more than 30% over the past 12 months and hit a 52-week high of 409.8p today. ICAP reported a fall in earnings per share for the year to 31 March, but held its dividend at 22p per share for a whopping yield of 7.6%.

There’s a small rise in EPS forecast for 2014, and most analysts are expecting the dividend to remain unchanged again. With the share price up since the last year-end, that would drop the yield to 5.6%, but that would still be a handsome payment — and it would be about 1.6 times covered by forecast earnings.

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> Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares in Tesco.

Should you invest, the value of your investment may rise or fall and your capital is at risk. Before investing, your individual circumstances should be assessed. Consider taking independent financial advice.

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