3 Shares the FTSE Should Beat Today

LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE  ) looks to be ending the week on a good note, up 0.15% to 5,911 as of 10 a.m. EST. The index of top U.K. stocks fell earlier in the day over fears regarding the latest U.S. jobs report, but those appeared to be unfounded, and it has bounced back. The index is now just 78 points short of its 52-week high of 5,989.

But sadly, there are always companies whose share prices are falling. Here are three suffering that fate today.

James Halstead  (LSE: JHD  )
James Halstead
shares are down 6.4% to 594.5 pence after the commercial flooring company's annual general meeting statement failed to inspire -- even though it sounded positive. Although business in some markets, notably Australia, are under pressure, low costs and strong margins are expected to help the firm achieve better profit than in the last half-year.

Overall, the share price has done well this year, and it is still more than 40% up from the beginning of January. There's modest earnings growth expected for the full year, but the shares are on a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 20, which looks high enough.

Coal of Africa  (LSE: CZA  )
Elsewhere, it's been a tough day for the energy resources business, as Coal of Africa found after its shares dropped 2.3% to 2.3 pence. In this case, the trigger was the announcement that the firm has dismissed 178 of its employees (48% of its workforce) for participating in unprotected strike action.

Industrial unrest has blighted the South African mining business this year, and Coal of Africa's shares have lost more than 75% of their value over the past 12 months.

Photo-Me International  (LSE: PHTM  )
The recent share price recovery of Photo-Me International faltered a little today on the release of first-half results. The shares fell as much as 3% before climbing back to breakeven. Yet the figures actually looked pretty good.

Although there was a 7% fall in revenue to 107 million pounds, pre-tax profit rose by 17% to 20 million pounds, and earnings per share were boosted by 22% to 3.93 pence. The interim dividend was lifted by 20% to 1.5 pence, suggesting that the City's full-year forecast of 2.8 pence per share is probably too conservative.

Finally, how does Britain's ace investor Neil Woodford avoid share price falls? He goes for a strategy of buying solid blue-chip shares paying dependable long-term dividends. And in doing so, he's built a record of beating the FTSE for nine straight years. If you want to see how Woodford manages to beat the market, the free Motley Fool report "8 Shares Held By Britain's Super Investor" takes a look at some of his key holdings. To get your copy, click here while it's still available.


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