3 FTSE Shares Hitting New Highs: Drax Group Plc, Smith & Nephew plc and AstraZeneca plc

The prospects of the FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) regaining May’s 13-year high of 6,876 points is looking increasingly bleak, with the index of top UK shares looking set for its fifth week of losses in a row. By late afternoon today it’s down 3 points on the day to 6,507, down 144 on the week, and 369 points short of that record — and that comes after the government lifted its economic forecasts and the Bank of England maintained its low-interest stance.

But there are still plenty of individual shares climbing ever higher. Here are three from the FTSE indices setting new records of their own:

Drax Group

Shares in Drax Group (LSE: DRX) have been climbing strongly since the power-station operator’s third-quarter update told us “we now anticipate that full year EBITDA and underlying earnings per share for 2013 will be materially ahead of current market consensus forecasts“.

Since the end of the first half, Drax’s performance from its coal-fired stations has been good, and its first biomass unit has been “encouraging“. Powers sales contracts are also going well, with contracts for 2014 up to 20.5 TWh, which is already close to this year’s 25.6 TWh.

As a result, the share price has spiked up to a 52-week high of 799p today, taking it up 40% over the past 12 months.

Smith & Nephew

Smith & Nephew (LSE: SN) set a new 52-week closing high yesterday of 831p, and so far today is ahead of that at 833p to take the shares up nearly 25% over the past 12 months.

The orthopedics specialist has recorded relatively modest year-on-year earnings rises, with a pretty flat year expected this year followed by a forecast 12% rise in 2014. That puts the shares on a P/E of 18 this year, higher than the FTSE’s average of 14, but that drops to under 16 on 2014 forecasts.


AstraZeneca (LSE: AZN) (NYSE: AZN.US) has been bouncing around its 52-week high in recent days, and after having touched the heights of 3,529.5p on Tuesday, the price could only manage 3,482.5 today — but that’s still more than 15%  up over the past 12 months and ahead of the FTSE. And that’s a strong endorsement of the firm’s refocus plans since chief executive Pascal Soriot took the helm — at Q3 time he said “We continue to focus on the strategic priorities of returning to growth and achieving scientific leadership, and this is reflected in continued investment in our growth platforms and our pipeline“.

We still have a couple of years of stagnating earnings forecast, but AstraZenenca’s P/E for year-end is a modest 11.3 and there’s an attractive 5% dividend yield expected.

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> Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares in Smith & Nephew.