3 Shares the FTSE 100 Should Beat Today

LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE  ) is steady today, picking up 30 points to stand at 6,134 as of 9:30 a.m. EST. There's not that much news around to move the index in any real direction as worldwide markets continue to appear uncertain. Still, at least the FTSE 100 looks set to complete 12 consecutive sessions above 6,000 today. The last time such a stint was achieved occurred during 2008.

As usual, we do have a few fallers, based on the current trading-update season. Here are three that disappointed the markets this morning and look set to lag the FTSE 100 today.

Rio Tinto (LSE: RIO  )
The big shock of the morning was the revelation from Rio Tinto that the miner will be writing down some 9 billion pounds of its assets within its 2012 accounts. The news caused the share price to drop 0.6%, which seems surprisingly small compared to the value of the writedown, although at one point the price did briefly drop 4.5% to 3,300 pence.

The writedown relates mainly to the company's Rio Tinto Coal Mozambique operation and its aluminum businesses, and it led to the departure of chief executive Tom Albanese "by mutual agreement" with the board.

Premier Oil (LSE: PMO  )
Premier Oil shares dropped 1.1% to 367 pence after the firm released an update ahead of its full-year results. Average production for the year is currently estimated at 57,700 barrels of oil a day, which is up 43% on 2011 and is expected to rise further to between 65,000 barrels and 70,000 barrels for 2013.

Chief executive Simon Lockett told investors he expects cash flow to rise strongly, enabling the company to start paying a dividend. Preliminary full-year results are due on March 21.

Mothercare (LSE: MTC  )
Mothercare, whose shares have enjoyed a pretty good recovery this year, saw their price fall 5% to 290 pence during early trading before recovering back to 302 pence, or a 0.6% loss.

The reason for today's fall was a third-quarter statement that told of group sales dropping 7% during the 13 weeks to Jan. 12. However, the shortfall was due to the current poor state of the U.K. business, and there was optimism from international sales, which grew by 12%. The firm's three-year "transformation and growth" plan is, apparently, still on track.

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 has 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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