3 Shares the FTSE Should Beat Today


LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) is sluggish today, down about 14 points to 5,729 as the markets still await the next pronouncements from central banks. Still, at least it's not falling.

Unfortunately, that's more than can be said of some constituents of the various FTSE indexes. Let's look at three whose shares are dropping today.

Hays (ISE: HAS.L)
fell 7.5% to 71 pence, despite releasing annual results that showed an 11% increase in pre-tax profit to 122.4 million pounds. However, bottom-line earnings per share fell by 4% to 5.47 pence, and the dividend was slashed by 57% to 2.5 pence per share -- a slightly bigger cut than the City had been expecting.

That was still a 3.2% yield on yesterday's close, and 2013 forecasts suggest 3.3%, but uncertain markets can hit recruitment companies harder than most, as recruiting is one of the first cutback targets during hard times -- and chief executive Alistair Cox expects next year to be tough as well.

WPP (ISE: WPP.L) Advertising group WPP saw its shares fall 2.8% to 808.4 pence after it told of slowing growth in its interim results. Like-for-like revenue for the first half grew by 3.6%, with total revenue up 5.5% to 4.97 billion pounds. But at the same time, the company lowered its full-year growth expectations to 3.5% -- down from 4% -- based largely on increasingly cautious advertising spending in its American markets. The dividend was lifted by 18% to 8.8 pence per share.

WPP also revealed plans to move its headquarters back to the U.K., subject to the approval of shareholders, after a change in U.K. tax laws affecting overseas earnings.

Range Resources (ISE: RRL.L) When we look at the day's list of volatile shares, there's usually an oil and gas explorer or two among them, and today it's Range Resources' turn. The company's shares fell by 8.5% to 5.4 pence per share.

The news? Well, it seemed good on the face of it, as the firm announced the commencement of spudding operations at its MD248 well in Trinidad. The rig being used, Rig 8, is the largest it has, and it should reach its target depth in six to eight weeks, investigating formations at two different depths.

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