May seems so long ago now, when the FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) was sitting at that 13-year record of 6,876 points. Since then the wheels of the stimulus-led recovery have come off a little and there’s a bit of pessimism setting in — the index of top UK stocks is down 228 points from that peak to 6,650 today, and looks like it could be heading for its fourth week of losses in a row.
But which individual companies are setting their own records? Here are three:
Compass Group (LSE: CPG) shares soared to a new 52-week closing high yesterday of 938.5p, taking the price up nearly 30% over 12 months and to an all-time high for the catering group — the price is down to 926p by early morning today.
The latest boost came from full-year results which showed a 9.2% rise in underlying pre-tax profit to £1,188m, from revenue that grew 4.3% to £17.6bn.
But what has such a strong share price gain done to the price to earnings multiple? Based on 2014 forecasts it’s up to nearly 19 and the forecast dividend yield is down to 2.8% — the shares are looking fully-valued to me now.
GKN (LSE: GKN) has seen its share price soar by 75% over the past 52 weeks, to a new record of 385p in early trading today.
There’s been little concrete news since a third-quarter update on 22 October, when the auto and aerospace engineer told us that pre-tax profit was up 13% over the first nine months to £409m, from sales that rose by a similar 13% to £5,734m.
There’s a modest fall in earnings per share for the full year forecast, putting the shares on a forward P/E of 15, but a 19% rise predicted for the year to December 2014 drops that to 12.6.
Prudential (LSE: PRU) (NYSE: PUK.US) has had a pretty impressive year too, with a share price rise of approximately 42% to take it to a 52-week high of 1,295p briefly this morning — at the time of writing, it’s back slightly from that at 1,293p.
The Pru’s Q3 update on 14 November told us that “Asian growth continues to drive strong group performance”, with a 20% rise in business in the region over the nine months. Funds under management rose 19% to £124bn, setting a new record.
Prudential has delivered yearly earnings growth right through the recession and we have more of the same forecast for this year and next, though at around 2.5% dividends are not high for the sector.
> Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article.