3 Shares the FTSE Should Beat Today

LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) gained in early trading, but at the time of writing, it's back to just one point above yesterday's close at 5,793 points. Banks and miners are creeping up a bit, but consumer products and telecoms are down.

Individual shares are far more volatile than the FTSE overall, of course. Let's take a look at three constituents of the various indexes that the FTSE should beat today.

Barratt (ISE: BDEV.L)
Homebuilder Barratt Developments slumped 5.5% on the release of annual results -- which were very good. In the year to June 30, Barratt saw its pre-tax profits soar by 159% to 111 million pounds after revenue grew by 14% to 2.32 billion pounds. The firm's operating margin was strengthened from 6.6% last year to 8.2%, and its net debt was almost halved to 168 million pounds.

So why the fall? Possibly because there's no dividend to be paid, though most forecasters weren't expecting one anyway; it should be reintroduced next year. And the shares have still more than doubled over the past 12 months, so shareholders ought to be happy.

Gulf Keystone (ISE: GKP.L)
Gulf Keystone Petroleum fell 3.1% to 225.4 pence on interim results that showed post-tax losses tripling to $31.4 million, but cash and equivalents remained stable at $136.9 million. Looking forward, the oil explorer is expecting its Shaikan oil field in Iraqi Kurdistan to be producing 150,000 barrels per day by 2015, with a production of 30,000 to 40,000 barrels per day by mid-2013.

Chief executive Todd Kozel told us, "Gulf Keystone is now in transition from the exploration and appraisal phase to the large-scale staged development and production of the Shaikan field, which will be both challenging and exciting."

Dixons (ISE: DXNS.L)
Dixons Retail fell back a bit today, losing 3.1% to 19.4 pence. The shares have had a great month, piling up to reach a new high of 20.4 pence on Monday before falling back to today's price. The shares have more than doubled since their 2012 low point of 9.5 pence in January, painting one of the brightest recovery pictures we've seen on the high street for a long time.

At the current price, Dixons shares are valued on a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 14 for the year ending April 2013, which is close to the FTSE long-term average. But there's further recovery expected, with 2014 expectations bringing the P/E down to just 10. But we still await the resumption of a meaningful dividend.

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