3 Shares Set to Beat the FTSE Today

LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE  ) has retreated a little from yesterday's nine-month high, falling 0.3% to 5,927 by 9 a.m. EST. But it's still been a positive week so far -- the third in a row in which the index of top U.K. stocks has risen.

Some individual companies in the various FTSE indexes are doing well today, too. Here are three whose prices are on the up.

Balfour Beatty (LSE: BBY  )
Balfour Beatty shares have perked up 3% to 271 pence after the infrastructure group was selected as a preferred bidder by Suffolk Council for a contract to maintain the highways of the county. The deal will be worth 200 million pounds over five years and may be extended for up to 10 years.

The news will provide a bit of respite for the company after a November profit warning due to weak trading conditions in the international construction industry caused the shares to plunge.

National Express (LSE: NEX  )
Travel firm National Express saw its price boosted by 3.3% to 186 pence after a pre-close update told us that it "has continued to deliver a good revenue and profit performance in 2012 and is on target to deliver full-year results in line with the Board's expectations."

We should be seeing a fall of about 10% in full-year earnings, but analysts are currently predicting a dividend yield around 5.5%.

Betfair (LSE: BET  )
Betfair shares are up 0.2% to 765.5 pence after the firm released results for the six months to Oct. 31. The figures themselves don't look great, with a 5% rise in revenue leading to a 22% fall in underlying pre-tax profit, but that was in line with expectations.

Better is the news that the firm will streamline its operations and focus its gambling activities on regulated markets; weak gambling regulations have already caused problems in Greece and in Cyprus. Betfair will also withdraw from non-gambling businesses and has identified about 20 million pounds in cost savings.

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