3 Shares Set to Beat the FTSE Today

LONDON -- After a late surge saw the FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE  ) close slightly ahead yesterday, the cautious rise continued today, leaving the index of top U.K. stocks three points higher at 5,925 points -- not a big rise on the day, but it did bring the index just 64 short of its 52-week high of 5,989.

We have some impressive risers among individual shares today too. Here are three that are flying high:

ASOS (LSE: ASC  )
Online fashion-seller ASOS is at it again, releasing yet another great trading update. Investors pushed the shares up 3.1% to 25.40 pounds -- a new high for the year -- after hearing that total retail sales in the quarter to Nov. 30 rose by 30% to 165 million pounds. Perhaps of most importance is that sales in the U.K., which many have been thinking might level off soon, beat expectations by growing 24%.

The price has now beaten the peak it hit in mid-2011 before falling back, so is the drive sustainable this time? Well, current forecasts for the year to August 2013 put the shares on a price-to-earnings ratio of nearly 50, which is pretty optimistic even for a growth share. Will that optimism prove justified? That's for you to decide.

Whitbread (LSE: WTB  )
Whitbread shares rose 2.5% to £24.88, approaching a new high again. They're now up nearly 60% over the past 12 months. Today the trigger was the release of an interim statement that told of "double digit growth."

Total sales for the third quarter to Nov. 29 were up 14.4%, with nine-months sales up a corresponding 14.3%. Like-for-like sales were up 3.3% on the quarter and 3.9% over nine months. Although the operator of hotels, restaurants, and coffee shops told us that economic conditions are still challenging, full-year results are still in line with expectations.

Bowleven (LSE: BLVN  )
Oil and gas explorer Bowleven perked up 0.7% to 68.5 pence after the company released an update on its long-term incentive plan, or LTIP, for its bosses. Performance against targets set for the 2009 LTIP tranche would have resulted in directors receiving just 20% of their possible maximum. But due to the poor share price, even that has been deferred and has now been made subject to additional conditions.

New LTIP awards have been set for the next three-year period, of shares amounting to 100% of salary, with the exception of chief executive Kevin Hart, who has a potential bonus of 141%.

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