3 Shares the FTSE 100 Should Beat Today

LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE  ) was down all morning, but by 10:05 a.m. EST it had climbed 40 points, or 0.62%, to 6,378. While miners and some banks rose to push up the index, some companies going ex-dividend applied downward pressure, too.

But what of individual companies? Here are three from the various indexes that are slipping today.

SOCO (LSE: SIA  )
SOCO International shares have dropped 5.1% to 376 pence after investors were less than thrilled with the oil and gas explorer's latest operational update. The company told us its net production for 2012 amounted to 14,757 barrels of oil equivalent per day, which is up 170% on 2011. And for January 2013, that rose to 18,825.

At Soco's Te Giac Trang field in Vietnam, engineers estimate the presence of up to 958 million barrels. The company also had cash and equivalents at the year-end of $211 million, up from $178 million in June and $1.1 billion the previous December.

Oxford Instruments (LSE: OXIG  )
An interim update from Oxford Instruments sent the company's shares down 0.3% to 1,740 pence -- but they're still up more than 60% over the past 12 months. The firm, which provides high-technology tools for industry, said the period from Oct. 1 has been strong in nanotechnology tools but weaker in its industrial-products operations, as previously reported in November's first-half report.

Oxford Instruments also acquired Asylum Research Corporation on Dec. 17 for an initial payment of $32 million, with a possible additional $48 million payable over the next three years, depending on performance.

Sirius Minerals (LSE: SXX  )
Shares in Sirius Minerals have slipped 9.6% to 26 pence following today's update on its York Potash project. The firm has confirmed that the most likely approach to the project will be to use Engineering Procurement Construction Management/Engineering Procurement Construction methodologies and has revised its definitive feasibility study schedule for completion in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Current development director Alan Watling is to step down to be replaced by a new director, who has not yet been named "due to commercial sensitivity" concerning negotiations with his or her current employer.

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