Race to the top: These 3 ASX shares all smashed new 52-week highs today

Here we take a look at three market standouts from today’s session.

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Trading on the Australian exchanges has been choppy today. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) has slipped into the red in afternoon trading while the All Ordinaries index (ASX: XAO) is also in negative territory.

Despite the broad market’s downturn, these 3 ASX shares have smashed it out of the park today, with each nudging past its prior 52-week high.

Let’s investigate further.

National Australia Bank Ltd (ASX: NAB)

Shares in banking giant NAB popped from yesterday’s close to hit a new 52-week high of $30.30 today.

After the release of its full year results, investors are eager to claim a spot in the bank’s share register.

Not surprising considering NAB recognised a 77% increase in its cash earnings for the year to $6.56 billion. The bank attributes this to strengths in all its operating segments, including corporate, business, and private banking.

The market has responded positively to the bank’s FY21 performance today, sending its share price into the green directly from the open.

Brokers have responded positively too with both Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan reiterating their buy and overweight ratings on the NAB share price respectively.

Both firms like NAB’s balance sheet expansion and see a strong earnings outlook for investors to bite down into for the coming periods.

JP Morgan, for instance, reckons NAB has “a return on equity profile second only to CBA in the major banks”.

Shares in NAB were trading at $30.07 at last peek, currently 4% higher from the open.

Megaport Ltd (ASX: MP1)

Megaport’s share price nudged its 52-week high directly from the open today before retracing down into negative territory shortly afterwards.

It has since reclaimed some territory and is now inching 0.12% higher at $20.33 – a short distance off its single-year high of $20.88.

Zooming out, we see that Megaport shares have been trudging northwards since early October, ahead of the S&P/ASX All Technology Index (ASX: XTX).

The index, of which Megaport is a constituent, has gained almost 7% since coming off a low last month. During the same period, Megaport also bounced off its low and has climbed more than 28%.

This comes after the global elastic interconnection services provider released its trading update last month. Investors now seem satisfied Megaport’s future earnings outlook appears bright.

As investors continue bidding up the Megaport share price, analysts at Macquarie Group Ltd (ASX: MQG) reckon the company could climb another 20% and reach a target of $24.

The broker arrives at this valuation from its own modelling that forecasts Megaport’s port utilisation to hit 75% by FY24, up from 47% in FY21.

It also likes Megaport’s Network-as-a-Service business model that has attracted customers such as eBay, Uber, and Zoom.

Best & Less Group Holdings Ltd (ASX: BST)

Best & Less shares shot past its 52-week high today, topping at $4.33 before swinging back down into the red in afternoon trade.

At the time of writing, shares in the apparel and retail business are changing hands at $4.02 apiece, almost 4.5% down on the day.

Notably, the Best & Less share price has gained around 10% in the last week, despite no market sensitive information from the company.

However, both the S&P/ASX 200 Consumer Discretionary index (XDJ) and the S&P/ASX 300 Retailing index (AXRTKD) have also gained steam in the past week, indicating strengths in the broad sector.

Investors are piling into retail and consumer discretionary shares as the economy slowly begins to reopen from COVID-19, alongside the rest of the world.

Many individual and institutional investors are betting on a ‘reopening’ trade to capitalise on this momentum.

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The Motley Fool writer Zach Bristow has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. owns shares of and has recommended MEGAPORT FPO. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended MEGAPORT FPO. 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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