3 FTSE Shares You Should Have Bought Last Week: Shire PLC, Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc and BHP Billiton plc

The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) put in another positive week last week, gaining 99 points to reach 6,721 by the end of Friday. That’s the highest the index of top UK shares has been since May, when it set a 13-year record of 6,876 points. And today, at 6,727, it’s only 149 points short of that — the records might just be tumbling again before too long.

But which top shares helped the FTSE on its recent bullish run? Here are three of last week’s biggest winners:


Shire (LSE: SHP) shares climbed 239p (9.4%) last week to reach 2,776p, after the pharmaceuticals firm told us of a strong third quarter that brought in a 12% rise in revenue to $1,237m. Operating income soared 30% to $422m, and cash flow was up 36%. Eight of the company’s products enjoyed double-digit growth in sales.

Shire is now predicting mid-to-high teens earnings growth for the full year, after chief executive Flemming Ornskov M.D. told us of a “simpler, more efficient business” due to reorganisation, with R&D and administrative spend set to be lower than previously expected over the next three years.

Reckitt Benckiser

It was third-quarter results that did the trick for Reckitt Benckiser Group (LSE: RB), too, with a report of a 5% rise in net revenue to £2,548m helping push the shares up 278p (6.2%) to finish at 4,780p. Like-for-like sales growth during the quarter also came in 5% up, excluding pharmaceuticals (“RBP”). Figures for the year-to-date were similar — total sales up 6%, ex-RBP like-for-like up 5%.

For the full year, chief executive Rakesh Kapoor said “Our recent acquisitions are performing strongly, ahead of in-going assumptions and consequently, we now believe that our full year net revenue growth (ex RBP) including the net impact of M&A will be at least 6%“.

BHP Billiton

It was a good week for BHP Billiton (LSE: BLT) (NYSE: BBL.US), after shares in the miner put on 91.5p (4.9%) to 1,953p — but the price did fall back from that to 1,939p by mid-morning today, as the whole of the mining sector is retreating a little.

BHP’s boost came from a first-quarter operational review, which told us that production was up 11% over the same period a year ago, with iron ore production from Western Australia doing particularly well — production guidance for the full year has been raised to 212 million tonnes. Guidance for Petroleum, Copper and Coal is unchanged.

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