3 Shares Set to Beat the FTSE 100 Today

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LONDON -- Unexpectedly weak European economic indicators hit the FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE  ) this morning, sending it tumbling 105 points, or 1.64%, to 6,290 by 8:40 a.m. EST -- and that comes just after the U.K.'s top-tier index touched an intraday high of 6,412 yesterday. Instead of the hoped-for return to growth, it now looks like the eurozone economy is set to shrink by 0.3% in the first quarter of 2013.

Still, there are plenty of companies doing well. Here are three whose prices are rising on good news.

BAE Systems shares have risen 4.9% to 348 pence after the company lifted its full-year dividend by 3.7% to 19.5 pence per share. On the current price, that's an attractive yield of 5.6%. The company, a constituent of the Fool's Beginners' Portfolio, did record a 7% fall in sales to $17.8 billion, but operating profit was up 3.7% to $1.6 billion.

Underlying earnings per share fell 2% to 38.9 pence, but that was still sufficient for BAE to pay a dividend "in line with its policy of a long-term sustainable cover of around two times underlying earnings." Today's figures put the shares on a price-to-earnings ratio of nine.

Sports Direct (LSE: SPD  )
Shares in Sports Direct International have perked up 5.4% to 438 pence in response to the company's latest update. For the 13 weeks to Jan. 27, sales were up 21% to 589.5 million pounds, with gross profit up 23% to 244.8 million pounds. Chief executive Dave Forsey told us, "We are certain of reaching our 2013 full year targeted underlying EBITDA of 270 million pounds (before the charge for the bonus share schemes)."

The share price is up an impressive 50% over the past 12 months, with full-year forecasts putting the shares on a prospective P/E of 17.

Quindell (LSE: WTG  )
A trading update today sent Quindell Portfolio shares up 4.7% to 14 pence. The firm, which provides software and consultancy to the insurance and telecom sectors, told us it has had a "100% success rate in converting all outsourcing pilots into on-going long term contracts" and that outsourcing volumes look sufficient to meet full-year revenue expectations.

Current forecasts suggest a near-doubling of earnings per share this year, putting the shares on a forward P/E for December 2013 of a modest-looking six.

Coming out of a recession when depressed share prices are rising, the odds can be tipped in favor of growth investors. But finding the best growth shares is not easy. If you want some help with the task, I recommend you get yourself a copy of our brand-new report "The Motley Fool's Top Growth Share For 2013," which is the result of some serious brain-work by the Fool's top analysts. It's completely free of charge, but it will be available for a limited period only. So click here to get your copy today.


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