3 FTSE Shares Hitting New Highs: Amlin plc, BT Group plc and Hargreaves Lansdown PLC

Amlin plc (LON: AML), BT Group plc (LON: BT.A) and Hargreaves Lansdown PLC (LON: HL) are powering upwards.

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A few short weeks ago the prospects of the FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) regaining May’s 13-year record of 6,876 points seemed remote, but it’s surprising the difference just two weeks of gains can make. As I write, the index of top UK shares stands at 6,729 points, which is 22 points down from Friday’s close — but that’s only 147 points short of the record.

As we wait for the FTSE to scale new heights, which individual shares are helping it on its way? Here are three:

Amlin

Insurer Amlin (LSE: AML) has seen its shares gain more than 20% during 2013, and that was topped with a 52-week high of 460.6p on Friday. The price dipped a little to end the day on 458p, but it’s back close to that level today at 460p as I write.

The insurance sector in general has enjoyed a decent few months at the tail-end of the year, and Amlin is looking like it might be good value right now. We do have a 16% fall in earnings per share forecast for the year to December 2014 (after a 3% rise this year), but that would still leave the shares on a modest P/E of under 11.

There’s also a hefty dividend yield of 5.7% predicted, though in 2014 it would only be covered around 1.7 times — and some insurers have already rebased their dividends, so that’s a note of caution.

BT Group

BT Group (LSE: BT-A) (NYSE: BT.US) has had an even better year, with its shares up more than 60% over the past 12 months.

The telecoms giant also reached a 52-week high on Friday, of 382.6p, helped no doubt by the company’s coup in winning the rights to European football for its BT Sports channels. Today the shares are trading a bit lower than that, at 377p

While the price rise does put BT shares on a forward P/E of nearly 16 with a modest dividend yield of 2.8% predicted, we do have a couple of years of both earnings per share (EPS) and dividend growth forecast.

Hargreaves Lansdown

Our best performer of the three today has been broker and investment manager Hargreaves Lansdown (LSE: HL), whose shares are just a shade short of having doubled over the past 12 months. The price touched a high of 1,350.7p on Friday, before falling back to 1,342p today.

Such a strong performance unsurprisingly puts the shares on a high forward P/E. Based on forecasts for the year to June 2014, we’re looking at a multiple of 37, so there’s clearly a good bit more earnings growth expected. But we’ve seen EPS climb at an average annual rate of 28% over the past five years, so could it carry on at the same pace?

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 considered so you should consider taking independent financial advice.

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

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