The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) finished last week slightly up, with a gain of 13 points to 6,735 to extend its winning streak to four weeks in a row. And it’s gained further today, picking up 22 points to reach 6,757 by late morning, taking it ever-closer to that record high of 6,876 set in May — only another 119 points to go now!
Which companies helped the FTSE to avoid what was at times looking like a fall last week? Here are three with nice boosts:
Third-quarter results last Tuesday gave BP (LSE: BP) (NYSE: BP.US) shareholders a great week, and the price ended the week up 33.5p (7.5%) to 484.8p. Underlying replacement cost profit was down to $3.69bn from $5.02bn a year previously, but the fall was not as big as had been expected and still nicely beat the company’s 2013 Q2 result. The dividend for the quarter was lifted 5.6% to 9.5 cents (6p) per share.
Net cash generation rose, to $6.3bn from $6.2bn, with chief executive Bob Dudley saying “In 2011 we set a clear target for operating cash flow in 2014 and we are confident in its delivery“.
The total costs of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill were also updated, and currently stand at $42.5bn. That’s a lot of money, but the figure is starting to stabilize now.
It was a third-quarter update that did the trick for NEXT (LSE: NXT) as well, after the high-street fashion giant announced a 4.3% rise in total Next brand sales — with 10.7% of that from Next Directory, emphasising the importance of online business.
The firm also refined its full-year guidance, telling us it now expects to see sales growth of between 2% and 3.75% with pre-tax profit of £650-680m (for growth of 4.6-9.4%). That should lead to a rise in basic earnings per share (EPS) of between 15% and 21%. NEXT expects its buyback programme to be worth £300-350m by year-end.
The share price? A rise on the week of 270p (5.2%) to 5,475p, taking it up more than 50% over the past 12 months.
Marks and Spencer
Although there was no real news last week, Marks and Spencer Group (LSE: MKS) shares put on 18.9p (4%) to close on 494.7p, in advance of first-half results due tomorrow. although the shares haven’t had as good a year as NEXT’s, they’re still up around 30% over 12 months.
So what are analysts expecting? If they’re right we should see a return to EPS growth for the full year, albeit modest at around 3%, with a predicted total dividend yield of 3.5%. That would put the shares on a forward P/E of 15, and we’d need to see some progress tomorrow to justify that.
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> Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article.