Why National Grid, Balfour Beatty, and Marston's Should Lag the FTSE 100 Today


LONDON -- There appears to be no stopping the FTSE 100 at the moment, as it has once again set a new five-and-a-half-year high of 6,711 points. As of 7:55 a.m. EDT, it's up 0.24% to 6,709. If the index maintains its current level by close, it will have risen for 11 consecutive trading days since its last dip on April 30.

Still, not all the companies in the various FTSE indexes are enjoying the same success. Here are three that are lagging behind today.

National Grid
National Grid shares have dropped 2.2% this morning, even though the gas and electricity supplier reported a 6% rise in underlying pre-tax profit to 2.7 billion pounds from a 4% rise in revenue. Underlying earnings per share rose 12% to 56.1 pence, which is pretty much in line with the City's expectations. The full-year dividend was lifted 4% to 40.85 pence per share in accordance with the firm's new dividend policy, providing a yield of 4.9% -- the new policy aims to raise the annual dividend at least in line with the RPI inflation rate.

Chief executive Steve Holliday said: "In the U.K., we are positioned to make a strong start to the new eight year regulatory regime. We are focused on meeting our regulatory commitments by operating efficiently and investing in essential infrastructure, while delivering high standards of customer service, driving good returns for shareholders."

Balfour Beatty
I'd usually expect the announcement of a major contract award to boost a company's share price. But that's not what happened to Balfour Beatty this morning after the construction and services firm told us of a new 76.5 million pound deal in Melbourne, Australia. Instead, the shares dropped 1.8%.

The new road and rail project awarded as part of the NetworkX Alliance provides business for Balfour Beatty's rail division and its professional services division and will involve the removal of a key road and rail level crossing in Melbourne.

Interim results sent shares in Marston's down 3.7% pence this morning, though they are still up nearly 60% over the past 12 months. While revenue for the pub operator and brewer was up 4.7% to 358 million pounds, underlying pre-tax profit fell by 18% to 27.6 million pounds due to higher financing costs, and underlying EPS fell 19% to 3.8 pence per share. But the company did lift its interim dividend by 4.5% to 2.3 pence per share.

Despite the rises in finance costs, Marston's reckons it will see higher profit and lower costs in the second half and says its expectations for the full year are unchanged. The current consensus suggests a 6% rise in full-year EPS to around 13 pence, with a 6.4 pence dividend for a yield of 4.3%.

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The article Why National Grid, Balfour Beatty, and Marston's Should Lag the FTSE 100 Today originally appeared on Fool.com.

Alan Oscroft has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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