3 Shares Set to Beat the FTSE Today

LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) continued the week sluggishly, falling 50 points to 5,709 by early afternoon after previously optimistic outlooks on Europe appeared to turn a little bearish. But miners picked up a little, reversing their recent gloomy trend.

But even if the blue chips aren't moving much, there are plenty of individual companies in the various FTSE indexes that are making waves. Here are three on the up today.

Ashtead (ISE: AHT.L)
Ashtead Group rose 11.3% to 314 pence today on the release of very strong first-quarter results. For the three months to July, the equipment hire group recorded an underlying rise in revenue of 21% to 325 million pounds and an underlying pre-tax profit boost of 82% to 61.4 million pounds -- although statutory results, including exceptional items, brought that down to a 5% rise to 34.9 million pounds.

With the board now expecting full-year results "materially ahead of its previous expectations," chief executive Geoff Drabble said, "We are delighted with this record performance"

I bet they are!

Greene King (ISE: GNK.L)
Pub group Greene King told us in an interim update today that sales for the 18 weeks to Sept. 2 are up 5% in like-for-like terms, and that was enough to give the shares a 3.6% boost to 584 pence. The wet summer didn't impact sales too badly, and the effects of the Olympics were negligible overall; stronger trading in suburban pubs compensated for lower sales at central locations.

The shares have had a great year and are up about 35% on 12 months ago.

Smith (ISE: SMDS.L)
DS Smith, the packaging and office materials provider, gave us an update today that sent the shares up 4% to 168.4 pence. The company completed its takeover of SCA Packaging according to schedule in June, paying a sum of 1.28 billion pounds, and told us that trading is in line with expectations and that we should see substantial earnings-per-share growth for the full year.

Current forecasts suggest a payout of 4% for April 2013, rising to 4.8% the following year, with the shares on a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 11, falling to less than nine the year after.

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