Bloomsbury (LSE: BMY), QinetiQ (LSE: QQ) and Prudential (LSE: PRU) are all near their 52-week highs.
The FTSE 100 (UKX) slid back by 70 points to 5,787 points by early afternoon, extending its retreat from its recent high of 5,989 points. It's largely been down to falling miners of late, peppered with a bit more European uncertainty.
But in the real world of individual companies, the level of the index is pretty meaningless. Here are three companies from the various indices that are currently trading around their 52-week highs...
Bloomsbury Publishing (LSE: BMY) has had a great run over the past month, and hit a new 52-week high of 145.7p on Wednesday, before falling back a little to 144.25p. That takes the shares up 62% since their January low of 90p.
The reason? Well, preliminary results in May showed strongly rising turnover, pre-tax profit and earnings per share (eps), which allowed for a 10% increase in the annual dividend. And then July's interim update told us that business is in line for expectations, which suggests dividends of around 4% for the next couple of years, from shares on a forward price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of about 11.
Defence engineer QuinetiQ (LSE: QQ) has also been toying with its 52-week high again, and after briefly touching 172p on 3 August, it again exceeded the 170p mark on Tuesday. Today it's back down a little, on 167p, but that's still a remarkable 49% gain on its 52-week of 112p, set in September last year.
A trading update in July told us of ongoing difficulties in the market, especially as governments seek to cut back expenditure, but the firm's 2012-13 year has apparently started well, and the City is expecting modest earnings growth for the next two years, from a share on a P/E of around 11.
In line with a strengthening insurance sector, Prudential (LSE: PRU) has been testing new highs all month. From an October low of 495p, the shares touched a high of 824p least week, and have been hovering there before a small fall back to 797p at the time of writing. Overall that's a 61% rise, which is pretty good for a £20bn FTSE 100 company.
But what of the future? Analysts are expecting a dividend of 3.2% this year and 3.5% next, from shares on a forward P/E of 12, falling to under 11. That doesn't look stretching, but there are cheaper shares out there offering better dividends.
If you want to find good dividend-paying shares, have a look at the free Motley Fool report “8 Shares Held By Britain's Super Investor”, which takes a look at some of ace investor Neil Woodford's major holdings. Click here to get your free copy, while it's still available.
And if you're looking for riches from the oil and gas industry, try the new Motley Fool report, “How To Unearth Great Oil & Gas Shares”. It's free, so click here for your personal copy.
Further Motley Fool investment opportunities:
> Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article.