3 Shares the FTSE Should Beat Today


LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) was unable to keep its head above the 5,900 level this morning and is down 0.3% as of 8:50 a.m. EST. The point value of the index doesn't really matter, but a strong spell could help boost confidence for the long term.

Even on this trading day gone wrong, some individual companies are seeing even heavier losses.

FirstGroup (ISE: FGP.L)
FirstGroup shares are down again after a recent mini-recovery, dropping 4.2% to 197 pence on the release of half-year figures. Things are largely going as expected, we were told, as underlying pre-tax profit fell 42% to 48.7 million pounds. Reported pre-tax profit slumped to 8.4 million pounds, but that was heavily distorted by a pension-fund boost last year and exceptional costs this year.

The travel operator declined to raise its interim dividend due to uncertainty caused by the West Coast main-line fiasco, holding it at 7.62 pence per share. FirstGroup shares are down about 40% on the year, with about half of that fall coming as a result of the aborted franchise bid.

Clarkson (ISE: CKN.L)
Shipping-services group Clarkson issued a profit warning today, causing an 8.8% fall in its share price to 1,190 pence. The firm is apparently suffering from falling freight rates and lower asset prices, telling us that "the short-term outlook for rates and values is uncertain."

The result is a lowering of the board's expectations for the full year, though we were not given any figures. Prior to today, the City was forecasting a 28% fall in earnings per share this year.

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RPS Group fell 5.4% to 225 pence on the day the resources, land, and property consultant announced that nine-month performance is well ahead of the same period last year. The firm is also, we were told, on track to meet the board's full-year expectations. So why the fall?

RPS's "Built and Natural Environment" division is facing tough conditions, and broker forecasts have been downgraded a little. Before today, analysts had the shares on a forward price-to-earnings ratio of around 12, with a 2.7% dividend forecast, making the price fall look possibly unfair.

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The article 3 Shares the FTSE Should Beat Today originally appeared on Fool.com.

Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors.

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