3 Shares the FTSE Should Beat Today


LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) appears to be taking another day off, having moved less than a point so far to 5,499 points as the tug-of-war between U.K. company earnings and eurozone debt fears continues.

Speaking of U.K. companies, here are three from the FTSE indexes whose share prices have fallen today.

Lamprell (ISE: LAM.L)
had 42% slashed from the value of its shares, which fell to 71 pence after the oil and gas construction engineer released a further profit warning. The shares were crushed in May, falling from a month's high of 367 pence to 99 pence when the firm warned of a first-half loss and full-year results "considerably below the Board's original expectation" due to project delays.

In June, that H1 loss was quantified at around $15 million to $20 million, but today we hear it will be nearer $45 million, and a full-year loss is now on the cards! That's quite a revision, and it must surely raise questions about whether the board really knows what's happening.

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BG Group
slid 1% to 1,206 pence after reporting a 76% fall in second-quarter profits, largely due to its writedown of American gas assets based on gas price forecasts.

After adjusting for that, we saw a much more modest 4% fall in Q2 profits and a 5% fall in earnings per share. And the adjusted first half looked fair -- a 6% rise in profits, leading to a 20% rise in EPS -- but full-year forecasts have been scaled back.

The interim dividend was lifted 10% to $0.1188 per share, suggesting a full-year yield of 1.4%.

AstraZeneca (ISE: AZN.L)
shares fell 1.3% after the pharmaceuticals giant released an interim report telling us how the tough economy, coupled with increased competition from generic drugs, resulted in lower first-half profits. First-half sales fell by 16% to $14 billion, with pretax profits dropping 37% to $6.4 billion.

European sales were hurt by cash-strapped governments reigning in their drug spending, and revenues from emerging markets grew by a disappointing 1% due to supply problems; the firm reckons it would have been 8% otherwise.

AstraZeneca, one of Neil Woodford's key investments, has not been as swift as rival GlaxoSmithKline (ISE: GSK.L) to diversify away from the classic "blockbuster" drug model and looks set to suffer more while it adjusts.

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