Why the Brambles Limited (ASX:BXB) share price is at a 52-week high

The overall S&P/ASX 200 is down 4.7 points to 6,175 at the time of writing, but these three stocks are hitting their stride and printing 52-week highs lately with the market displaying its affection for Brambles Limited (ASX: BXB) especially.

Supply chain logistics company Brambles Limited shares soared up to hit a 52-week high to close off September 11 at $11.22 – up 21% from its share price of $9.20 at this time last year.

Brambles shares are maintaining the year high at the time of writing – up 0.7% to $11.30.

So what’s been happening behind the scenes at Brambles?

Brambles shares are up despite going ex-dividend yesterday, which is not the usual mood of things, with SEEK Limited (ASX: SEK), Perpetual Limited (ASX: PPT) and Costa Group Holdings (ASX: CGC) all going ex-dividend today and all in the red at the time of writing.

Brambles handed down its FY18 results in late August, with underlying profit up 4% to US$996.7 million, sales revenue up 10% on a statutory basis and EPS up a whopping 309% to US47c per share – also on a statutory basis.

Brambles declared a 14.5c per share final dividend with 30% franking payable on October 12 to shareholders on the registry as at 5pm today.

Rumours private equity buyers are circling Brambles have also caused its share price to push upward of late with shareholders hoping any proceeds might fund a share buyback or capital return program.

Brambles has forecast underlying profit growth for FY19 in excess of sales revenue growth.

Washington H. Soul Pattinson and Co. Ltd (ASX: SOL)

Respected investment house Washington H. Soul Pattinson and Co. Ltd shares had a stellar run in 2018 – opening today up at $24.50 – a 52-week high for the stock.

Considered one of the “safest” buy and hold forever shares on the ASX, Soul Patts is due to hand down its preliminary report on September 20 with its annual report due out in October.

Long considered the perfect “retiree” share, Soul Patts has continually outperformed the market and increased its fully-franked dividend pay out every year for the last 18 years – no small feat.

With its shares up 33% from this time last year and a grossed-up dividend yield of 3.21% currently, it’s hard to fault the conglomerate.

The only issue for investors who don’t already have skin in the game is timing their entry.

Freedom Food Groups Ltd (ASX: FNP)

Diversified food company Freedom Food Group Ltd shares hit a 52-week high on September 4, hovering at these highs for a short time before sliding down by 0.4% to $6.83 at the time of writing.

Freedom’s recently released results reported operating net profit of $19.4 million – up 96.9% on FY17’s result – with annual net sales rising 34.5%, and EBITDA up 49.5%.

Investors have responded well to such strong growth and Freedom shares have risen more than 50% in the last year with its final dividend increasing from 2.25c per share to 2.75c per share.

According to Freedom management, the results reflect a positive operating performance within a period of “significant change” for the group.

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Motley Fool contributor Carin Pickworth has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of and has recommended COSTA GRP FPO and Washington H. Soul Pattinson and Company Limited. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Freedom Foods Group Limited and SEEK Limited. 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 Scott Phillips.

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