3 Shares the FTSE Should Beat Today

LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) is trading 22 points lower at 5,819 this morning after finishing yesterday at a new three-month high of 5,814. Part of today's slide was due to AstraZeneca (ISE: AZN.L) falling, and part was blamed on various shares going ex-dividend, but 22-point FTSE movements are generally indistinguishable from random noise.

As always, some individual constituents of the various FTSE indexes were enduring a rough session today. We take a quick look at three names that look set to lag the FTSE 100 index by the close of play.

Cobham (ISE: COB.L)
fell 6% to 224 pence after the aerospace and defense engineer said it was cautious about U.S. sales as it announced interim results.

On revenue that fell 5% to 843 million pounds, the firm saw underlying pre-tax profit fall 4% to 142 million pounds. Cobham told us the "outlook for the US defence/security market for the end of 2012 and 2013 is particularly uncertain due to the upcoming US elections and the lack of political consensus on US Government budgets."

But the 60% of Cobham's business that is not affected remained strong, and the interim dividend was boosted by 33% to 2.4 pence per share.

BTG (ISE: BTG.L) Health-care specialist BTG dropped 3.6% to 326 pence after announcing this morning that AstraZeneca is to halt the co-development of anti-sepsis drug CytoFab, or AZD9773. AstraZeneca shares also fell, down 2% to 3,016 pence.

Apparently, there is great demand for a treatment of severe sepsis, but unfortunately, BTG's Phase 2 trials "did not show any significant improvements versus placebo in respect of the primary endpoint, ventilator-free days, or secondary endpoints including mortality."

BTG will take a charge of 28 million pounds relating to the ending of the trials in the current year.

Aquarius Platinum (ISE: AQP.L) dropped 3% to 35.5 pence after releasing full-year results that showed revenue falling 29% to $486 million and a headline loss for the year of $154 million before exceptional charges.

The poor performance of the world's fourth-largest producer of platinum was due to two causes: lower production -- which is hitting all operators in the sector -- and a $97 million foreign-exchange loss.

The shares are now down 86% over the past 12 months.

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