3 shares trading at 52-week highs: Is it too late to buy?

The S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX:XJO) has notched up five straight weeks of gains and could easily make it six in a row if Monday’s strong gains are anything to go by.

It’s unsurprising then, to see that the number of shares hitting 52-week highs far outweighing those declining to 52-week lows.

What is surprising, perhaps, is the fact that not one stock from the ASX200 index is trading at 52-week lows. Although value investors would be somewhat disappointed with the lack of genuine buying opportunities, it is nevertheless pleasing to see the markets trading higher.

A number of high-quality businesses have hit 52-week highs over the past week including:

Ramsay Health Care Limited (ASX: RHC)

Ramsay shares broke through the $70 level last week and are enjoying another strong start to the week with the shares trading to an all-time high of $72.77. Prior to this move, the shares had been range-bound on concerns that cost cutting by private health insurers would squeeze the margins of hospital operators like Ramsay. These concerns seem to have abated for the time being and the shares have really taken off over the last two weeks. Although Ramsay is probably my most preferred long term healthcare company on the ASX, it looks fully valued at current levels. The shares are trading at more than 30x FY16 analysts’ forecasts and, while I definitely would not sell the shares, I also wouldn’t rush out to buy them right now either.

Domino’s Pizza Enterprises Ltd. (ASX: DMP)

Shares of Domino’s continue to climb despite the fact that short positions in the company have more than tripled since late 2015. Some investors have become increasingly concerned about the company’s eye watering valuation but this hasn’t stopped the shares gaining nearly 80% over the past 12 months. Domino’s continues to deliver above average earnings growth, with its latest half year result delivering earnings of $45.6m – an increase of 56.7% on the prior corresponding period. This strong growth is expected to continue for at least the next few years as the company realises the benefits of recent acquisitions in France and Germany along with new store openings in Australia and Japan. Considering the shares are now trading at around 69x earnings, investors will need nerves of steel as there is currently zero margin for error.

Northern Star Resources Ltd (ASX: NST)

Northern Star is among a group of Australian gold producers hitting 52-week highs as higher spot gold prices combined with the falling Australian dollar help to rapidly expand the gold producer’s operating margins. The spot gold price is now trading at around A$1,754 – well above Northern Star’s operating costs of around A$1,050. Just like any other commodity however, the direction of the gold price will dictate which way Northern Star’s share price will move next and this makes an accurate valuation of the company quite difficult. With that said, investors who believe the gold price could increase further from here, should consider Northern Star ahead of most other producers as it has one of the strongest balance sheets and widest operating margins.

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Motley Fool contributor Christopher Georges has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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