LONDON -- After closing above 6,500 for two days in a row and setting a new intraday five-year record of 6,534 points yesterday, the FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE ) is falling back today. By 9:30 a.m. EDT it had dropped 53 points, or 0.81% to 6,457. Still, even if it stays level until the end of the day now, it would still extend its recent record to seven consecutive days above 6,400.
With the FTSE down a bit today, which individual shares are beating it? We look at three.
Prudential (LSE: PRU ) (NYSE: PRU )
Full-year results for 2012 sent Prudential shares up 5% to 1,081 pence after the life insurer lifted its dividend while competitors have been cutting theirs. After Aviva and RSA slashed their dividends, Prudential raised its full-year payout by 16% to 29.19 pence per share -- but at 2.7% based on the current share price, the yield is still substantially below that of its rivals.
Prudential enjoyed a 25% gain in operating profit to 2.53 billion pounds, with pre-tax profit up 54% to 2.81 billion pounds and shareholder funds up 21% to 10.4 billion pounds. Asia appeared to be the driving force behind the success, providing new business profit of 1.27 billion pounds. The Prudential share price is now up about 40% over the past 12 months.
Thomas Cook (LSE: TCG )
The recovery at Thomas Cook Group got a major boost this morning as the shares spiked 15.5% to 100 pence. They've now more than quadrupled since their low last year, when some were fearing the high-street travel agent might go bust.
The rise today was spurred by the firm's latest update, telling us of a further 50 million pounds of cost-cutting, taking the total savings so far to 350 million pounds -- and there's more to come. The turnaround in the U.K. is going according to plan, it seems, with Thomas Cook on target to reach an EBIT margin of 5% by the year to September 2015.
Man Group (LSE: EMG )
Full-year results on Feb. 28 didn't do much good for Man Group shares: The price fell 2.6% on the day to 100.3 pence and then dropped further to 96 pence by March 4. But the price then flattened out, and today it has jumped up 4.6% to reach 102.7 pence, perhaps now that the City has had time to digest the investment firm's new dividend policy.
Future annual payouts will be based on a minimum of Man's adjusted management fees -- and on the basis of 2012 fees, the 2013 yield could be in the region of 6% or more. And that would be higher than the brutally slashed dividend that a number of analysts have recently been predicting.
When we see stock markets becoming bullish, attention must surely turn to investing in growth possibilities (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.