3 FTSE 100 Shares for the Week Ahead


LONDON -- Firmly into year-end 2012 reporting season now, we have a whole raft of FTSE 100 companies bringing us full-year results next week. Are there any bargains to be had? Well, it could pay to do a bit of research ahead of the news, so here's a look at three of the week's reports to come.

Monday will bring us full-year results from Pearson, publisher of the Financial Times and owner of Penguin. January's trading statement told us that market conditions in the fourth quarter were weak in higher education, consumer publishing, and corporate advertising. The firm told us to expect about 935 million pounds in operating profit for the year, with adjusted earnings of about 84 pence per share.

That depressed the share price a little, and at the moment it stands at 1,215 pence, a few percent down for the year. Current expectations put the shares on a price-to-earnings ratio of 14, which is pretty average, and the City is predicting a dividend yield of 3.7%.

Shares in building-materials group CRH have had an erratic 12 months, falling early in 2012 and then picking up again toward to the end of the year to stand pretty flat overall, at 1,403 pence today. CRH has been in a bit of a cyclical downturn of late, with business in the U.S. and Europe tough throughout the recession. We'll find out how 2012 ended on Tuesday when the company releases its results.

Profit is expected to fall this year, putting the shares on a P/E of 19. But two years of predicted earnings growth should see that drop to about 12 by 2014, so it might be a good time in the business cycle to invest -- but you would really need to do your research. Dividend yields of about 4% look attractive, but there's a lot of debt on the books.

Wednesday brings us annual results from multi-utility Centrica, the owner of British Gas. The utilities are basically cash cows, valued for their steady dividends, and on that score Centrica looks pretty good. Earnings expectations for the year to December put the shares, currently priced at 352 pence, on a P/E of 13. The dividend yield is expected to be about 4.7%, and it should be comfortably covered.

Centrica also recently told us that it will not take part in the construction of planned European pressurized nuclear reactors, and at the same time it announced a 500 million pound share buyback over the next 12 months to return more cash to shareholders.

Dividends like Centrica's can add nicely to your investment returns -- and they can be spent or reinvested according to your needs. Whether you're investing for income or growth, good old cash is always welcome. And that's why I recommend the brand-new Fool report "The Motley Fool's Top Income Share For 2013," in which our top analysts identify a share they believe will provide handsome dividend income for years to come. But it will only be available for a limited period, so click here to get your copy today.

The article 3 FTSE 100 Shares for the Week Ahead originally appeared on Fool.com.

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