LONDON -- The FTSE 100 has been off its highs for a few weeks now after reaching a five-year top of 6,534 on March 12. The index of top U.K. stocks has been shaken of late by the Cyprus crisis and some weakness in the mining sector, but hovering around 6,400 points today, it's not far off its peak.
But plenty of the index's constituents have been flying in recent months and breaking their own new ground. Here are three setting new records.
We're in unusual times when some of the biggest companies in the FTSE 100 are galloping like small-cap growth shares. But that's what's been happening with GlaxoSmithKline, the fifth-largest company in the U.K.'s top index: GSK's shares have powered up 17% in just three months to hit a new 52-week record of 1,557 pence yesterday.
Even after that, the shares are still only on a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 13 based on December 2013 forecasts, in line with the FTSE 100's long-term average of about 14. And there's an above-average dividend yield of 5% currently expected by City analysts.
The eighth-largest top-flight company, drinks maker Diageo, also broke its 52-week record yesterday, reaching 2,115 pence. And that follows an impressive spell that has taken the share price all the way from 733 pence in March 2009 -- pretty much in a straight line, too.
Who really expects to see a near-three-bagger in just four years from a company reaching a valuation in excess of 50 billion pounds? It doesn't happen often, but it does come at a higher price than average. As a reward for Diageo's steady year-on-year increases in earnings and dividends, the market has valued its shares on a P/E of 20 based on June 2013 forecasts.
At 27th place, the smaller (but still valued at 19 billion pounds) Centrica also set a new 52-week high yesterday and has already beaten it in today, reaching 379 pence per share in early trading. That represents a 24% rise since June last year for the owner of the domestic British Gas brand.
But what makes Centrica's rise even more special is the extra bonus of its dividends. The utilities supplier is one of the FTSE 100's best payers, regularly dishing out yields of 4% to 5% per year, with 4.7% forecast for this year and 5% next.
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