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3 FTSE Shares Hitting New Highs: WPP PLC, ITV plc and Johnson Matthey PLC

The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) is not going to be setting new records any time soon, of that we can be reasonably certain.

That 13-year high of 6,876 points set in May is now looking pretty remote — though hopefully we’re safe from revisiting the 52-week low of 5,606 set back in November last year. And overall, a 13% gain over the past 12 months really isn’t so bad.

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Some individual companies are far outstripping the FTSE, mind. Here are three that are rising to new record levels:


WPP (LSE: WPP) (NASDAQ: WPPGY.US) shares finished yesterday on another new closing high, of 1,237p, having reached 1,253p during the day.The price has dropped back a little to 1,225p today, but it’s up around 50% over the past 12 months, and that’s pretty good going for a £16.5bn company in the top half of the FTSE 100.

The performance is based on a very solid performance, too, with the advertising and media giant reporting a 7.1% rise in first-half revenue last week, with headline pre-tax profit up 12% to a record-breaking £524m.

Even after the price rise, WPP shares are not outrageously valued, sitting on a forward P/E for the full year of 15, which is only slightly above the FTSE’s long-term average. And WPP’s rating drops to under 14 based on 2014 predictions, with a dividend yield of around 3% expected.


ITV (LSE: ITV) is another that just keeps on flying, with the shares having doubled over the past 12 months. They closed on a 52-week high of 168.8p yesterday, before losing the 0.8p by early afternoon today. And again, the fundamentals are looking solid.

The firm announced a 16% rise in adjusted pre-tax profit to £270m in first-half results released in July, with adjusted earnings per share (EPS) up 15% to 5.3p.

Debt has been a bit of an issue, but since the halfway stage ITV has been paying down some of it — the firm repurchased further convertible bonds to the value of £35.6m during August, to add to those bought before the interim date.

Johnson Matthey

Johnson Matthey (LSE: JMAT) has brought us the smallest share-price rise of today’s three, gaining just over 20% during the past 12 months to reach a record high of 2,935p today — the shares are back from that at 2,917p as I write. But it’s still beaten the FTSE, and once again reflects a strong performance.

A first-quarter update on 25 July told us that sales were up 13% to £745m, excluding precious metals, with “growth across all of the divisions“. Underlying pre-tax profit for the period was up 8% to £106m and net debt, at £881m, was in line with expectations.

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

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