3 Shares Set to Beat the FTSE Today

LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) still seems to be going nowhere this week, up just 13 points to 5,847 by midday and bringing us a pretty flat week overall: Banks have been inching up, miners have been slipping, and not much has been happening all around. Still, that's a lot better than the wild swings we've seen every time a fresh eurocrisis has hit, so we should probably be thankful.

And individual constituents of the various FTSE indexes have been ploughing their own furrows regardless, so here's a quick look at three that are set the beat the FTSE today.

Rank (ISE: RNK.L)
Rank Group
enjoyed a nice morning, rising 6% to 133 pence after hiking its full-year dividend by 35% to 3.6 pence per share -- that's a yield of 2.7%. Revenue for the year to June 30 rose by 3.4% to 600.5 million pounds, and from that the firm managed to extract a 9% increase in adjusted pre-tax profit to 61.5 million pounds and a 13.7% boost in adjusted earnings per share to 11.6 pence. The dividend, though modest, is more than thrice covered by earnings.

Ian Burke, chairman of the gaming and leisure group that owns such well-known brands as Mecca Bingo and Grosvenor Casinos, said, "While the current economic conditions remain challenging we have continued to increase the popularity of our brands and we look forward to the future with optimism."

Innovation (ISE: TIG.L)
Innovation Group
perked up a little in early trading after the release of its latest management statement. It was only a 2% rise to 19.65 pence, but it did help to build on the modest recovery that has lifted the shares by 6% since the start of the month.

The company, which provides software and services to the insurance, fleet, automotive, and property sectors, told us that trading has "continued positively," and that its operating cash flow is strong. A final settlement has been reached in litigation with Allstate Insurance Company of Canada at no further cost.

There's modest earnings growth forecast for the full year, but analysts have a 23% rise penciled in for 2013 -- although we do need to be cautious about forecasts so far out.

Barclays (ISE: BARC.L)
led the banks today as its shares gained 3% to 192 pence in morning trading, topping up a 27% rise since July 25 as the shares recover from the hammering they took from the bank's part in the LIBOR-fixing scandal.

With other banks following -- Lloyds Banking Group is up 3% to 34 pence -- and the recent Standard Chartered Iranian-transactions scare receding, is the banking sector finally getting back to some stable long-term growth?

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