The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) ended last week on 6,648 points, 93 points (1.4%) up, returning to its recent upwards trend. Today the index of top UK shares is up a further 13 points to 6,661, which takes it just 215 short of its 13-year record of 6,876 set on 22 May.
But which individual shares would have given you a FTSE-beating performance last week? Here are three that would have made you smile, and which may well be worth further investigation into their long-term prospects.
Weir Group (LSE: WEIR), the provider of engineering support for the oil & gas industry, saw its shares rise by 154p (7.4%) to end Friday on 2,239p, though they have fallen back a little today to 2,226p — after a volatile first half of 2013, they’re on a gain of 30% over the past 12 months. What gave the firm its latest boost was a first-half report on Tuesday in which chief executive Keith Cochrane told us: “Weir has delivered a first half performance in line with our expectations, despite challenging market conditions.“
That performance did include a 10% fall in revenue to £1,198m and a 14% drop in pre-tax profit to £193m, but forecasts actually suggest a reasonable couple of years ahead, and put the shares on a forward P/E of 13.5 for the year to December 2014.
Can maker Rexam (LSE: REX) released its first-half figures on Friday, and they were better than expected. The shares picked up 38p (8%) in response, to end the week on 515p — they’re currently a little above that, on 516.5p. The firm saw a small rise in sales, of 1% to £1.97bn, but higher costs led to a 10% fall in pre-tax profit, to £128m — though underlying pre-tax profit was reported as just 2% down.
Chief executive Graham Chipchase was positive about the future, saying “We continue to expect our full year performance to show improvement over 2012“.
Is it time to get back into miners? Well, Antofagasta (LSE: ANTO) put in a good week, with its shares up 43.5p (5%) to 901p over the week, and up half a penny more today. The miner was the latest to issue a second-quarter production report, and although copper production fell slightly from Q1 to Q2 due to scheduled maintenance, output of the metal over the half-year rose by 8.4% to 364,100 tonnes. The company also unearthed 19.7% more gold, at 162,900 ounces.
Despite last week’s rise, the shares are down around 20% over the past 12 months, with forecasts putting them on a P/E of 15 for the year to December. First-half results are due on 27 August.
Finally, if you’re looking for investments that should take you all the way to a comfortable retirement, I recommend the Fool’s special new report detailing five blue-chip shares. They’ll be familiar names to many, and they’ve already provided investors with decades of profits.
But the report will only be available for a limited period, so click here to get your hands on these great ideas — they could set you on the road to long-term riches.
> Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article.