3 Shares the FTSE 100 Should Beat Today

LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE  ) is rising yet again, up 10 points to a new 52-week high of 6,189 points as of 9:50 a.m. EST. That's just a shade away from the 6,200 level, which it could easily breach this afternoon. The index of top U.K. stocks has been lifted by rises across the market today, with no individual sectors responsible, though David Cameron's speech today has left European stock markets a little subdued.

Though the FTSE is hitting new heights, unfortunately not all of the constituents of the various indexes are in the same boat. Here are three that are falling today on various degrees of news.

Severfield-Rowen (LSE: SFR  )
Severfield-Rowen shares have crashed today, plunging 36.2% to 76 pence after the firm issued a profit warning and sacked its chief executive. The structural-steelwork specialist has been facing tough markets for some time, and its shares fell to a low point toward the end of 2012. But the price had been recovering.

In its second profit warning in two months, Severfield now tells us that cost overruns at London's "Cheesegrater" building could take it close to breaching its banking covenants and that it has subsequently parted company with boss Tom Haughey; he has been replaced by chairman John Dodds.

Findel (LSE: FDL  )
Shares in Findel have dropped 10% to 8.2 pence on the release of an interim management statement. But that's not too bad, really, considering the price is up about 150% since last summer. The education resources supplier told us that sales in the 16 weeks to Jan. 22 are 10.2% ahead of the same period last year and that, basically, the company's recovery is still on track.

After years of losses, the City is expecting the next few years to be back in profit, and there's even a return to dividends penciled in for the year to March 2015 -- though that really is too far in the future to be considered reliable just yet.

WH Smith (LSE: SMWH  )
An update from WH Smith sent the shares down 1.2% this morning, though they've since recovered to near breakeven. But that comes on the back of a solid 12-month period that has seen the price gain more than 20%. For the 20 weeks to Jan. 20, the company saw a 4% fall in sales, with like-for-like sales down 5%.

But we were also told of "good profit performance" and a strongly improved gross margin, though there were no figures put on them. Smith's plan to return 50 million pounds in cash to shareholders through a share buyback is going to plan, with almost 2.5 million shares having been purchased so far at an average price of 638 pence.

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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