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3 Shares Set to Beat the FTSE 100 Today

LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE  ) is still on the up today, rising 0.26% to 6,449 points by 7:45 a.m. EST -- and, on the way, briefly setting a new 52-week record of 6,458 points. It's been a good week for earnings reports, with support for economic stimulus from the U.S. and China adding to the general cheer.

But even when the FTSE is rising, there are still companies beating it. Here are three managing to do that today.

Vodafone (LSE: VOD  )
Vodafone shares have shot up 6.8% to 180 pence today as Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ  ) has been pondering its future relationship with the U.K. telecom giant. According to Bloomberg, Vodafone, which owns 45% of Verizon Wireless, met with Verizon in December, and talk of a merger was on the table.

But sources suggest some sort of deal over Vodafone's stake in Verizon will be a more likely outcome after the two sides apparently could not agree on the leadership and location of a merged company.

Legal & General (LSE: LGEN  )
Legal & General shares have climbed 3% to 168 pence after the insurer raised its full-year dividend by 20% to 7.65 pence per share for a yield of 4.6%. And that takes the shares up to a new 52-week record. Dividends and growth from the same investment can't be bad.

Pre-tax profit was up 9% to 1 billion pounds, with earnings per share up 12% to 13.9 pence, representing a price-to-earnings ratio of 12 -- and there's further growth forecast for the next two years. The increase in profit reported today came partly from annual premiums that rose by 15% to 2.1 billion pounds, with assets under management up 9% to 406 billion pounds.

Melrose Industries (LSE: MRO  )
Full-year results sent Melrose Industries shares up 5.5% to 274 pence this morning, again reaching a new high. The firm, which buys up manufacturing companies and turns them around, reported a 44% rise in revenue to 1.55 billion pounds, resulting in a pre-exceptional pre-tax profit rise of 39% to 224 million pounds. The firm's full-year dividend was lifted by 2.7% to 7.6 pence per share.

Chief executive Christopher Miller said, "Since inception less than 10 years ago Melrose has created over 2 billion pounds of shareholder value," which is nice.

When we see shares reaching new 52-week records, as two of these three have today, attention must surely turn to investing in growth shares (though a side helping of dividends is always a welcome addition). But finding companies that have not yet achieved their full potential is not always easy, which is why the Motley Fool's best analysts have put their heads together to bring you their top growth selection for 2013. You can find out what it is completely free of charge, but the report will be available for a limited period only. So click here to get your copy today.

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