Why United Utilities, Booker, and BTG Should Beat the FTSE 100 Today


LONDON -- Disappointing economic news from China sent Japan's Nikkei index down 7% overnight and had a knock-on effect on the FTSE 100 this morning: The blue-chip index is down 1.8% to 6,719 points as of 8:15 a.m. EDT. News from the U.S. Federal Reserve that economic stimulus could be cut back in the coming months didn't help, either.

Plenty of company shares are falling today as well, but here are three from the various indexes that look set to hold up against the FTSE.

United Utilities
Final results from United Utilities sent the firm's share price up 1.2% this morning after the final dividend was raised 7.2% to 22.9 pence per share to take the total annual dividend to 34.3 pence per share. That's in keeping with policy and bang in line with expectations, and it represents a yield of 4.3% on the current share price.

The water company recorded an 8% rise in underlying pre-tax profit to £354.3 million, with underlying earnings per share up 11% to 39.1 pence. On those earnings, the shares are on a P/E of 20 today, with forecasts for 2014 dropping that to 18.

Wholesaler Booker Group's shares have picked up a modest 0.2% to reach 130 pence this morning, taking the price up more than 75% over the past 12 months. Today's driver came in the form of full-year results, which saw sales up 3.5% to £4 billion, with like-for-like sales up 3.3%.

Pre-tax profit gained a substantial 13% to £101.4 million, and the firm was able to lift its final dividend by 15% to 2.25 pence, taking the total annual payment up a similar 15% to 2.63 pence per share for a yield of 2%. After the recent price appreciation, Booker's shares are on a forward P/E of 25 based on 2014 forecasts.

Shares in specialist health care firm BTG remained flat this morning, but that should still be enough to beat a falling FTSE. The news today was of the acquisition of EKOS Corporation, a firm involved in interventional vascular treatment, for an initial payment of £120 million in cash -- there may be up to £27 million in additional cash depending on milestone targets.

Chief executive Louise Makin said: "EKOS is a fast-growing and profitable business, and the acquisition provides an exciting opportunity to build on our existing interventional medicine business and to enter an area with a significant addressable market opportunity."

Finally, if you're looking for investments that should take you all the way to a comfortable retirement, I recommend the Fool's special new report detailing five blue-chip shares. They'll be familiar names to many, and they've already provided investors with decades of profits. But the report will only be available for a limited period, so click here to get your hands on these great ideas -- they could set you on the road to long-term riches.

The article Why United Utilities, Booker, and BTG Should Beat the FTSE 100 Today originally appeared on Fool.com.

Alan Oscroft has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Booker Group and BTG. 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.

Copyright © 1995 - 2013 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.