Why AstraZeneca, Stobart, and Telecom Plus Should Beat the FTSE 100 Today

LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE  ) has started the week well, up 1.16% to 6,486 points as of 8:25 a.m. EDT. The effect of the Cyprus crisis seems to be receding, and the index of top U.K. shares appears to be pretty much unaffected by weak worldwide manufacturing data released over the weekend.

With the FTSE on the up, which companies are doing even better? Here are three constituents of the various indexes on a rise today.

AstraZeneca (LSE: AZN  ) (NYSE: AZN  )
AstraZeneca shares have perked up 1.2% this morning, even though the pharmaceutical giant lost a patent case in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. The court decided that AstraZeneca's patent for its Pulmicort Respules asthma treatment is not valid in the U.S. and that no infringement by generic-drug makers has been committed.

AstraZeneca, whose share price has been soaring of late to reach new 52-week highs, is considering whether to appeal the judgment.

Stobart (LSE: STOB  )
Stobart has made a welcome gain this morning, up 5.3% after telling us that performance for the year to February 2013 is expected to have been "moderately ahead of market expectations." The company also announced a new three-year contract with Tesco and revealed that current executive chairman Avril Palmer-Baunack will stand down and be replaced by a "suitable independent" nonexecutive chairman when one can be found.

Current forecasts put Stobart shares on a price-to-earnings ratio of 12, but we should expect something a little better than that now. There's also a 6% dividend being forecast, but we'll have to wait and see whether that materializes. Results are due on May 16.

Telecom Plus (LSE: TEP  )
Telecom Plus has been a great recent success story, with its shares rising nearly fourfold over the past five years. And today they've picked up a further 2.9% after the company released a trading update ahead of results due on May 21.

After a strong fourth quarter, Telecom Plus expects its profit to be in line with current market forecasts, and it intends to pay a final dividend of 18 pence per share. That would bring the total payment for the year to 31 pence per share for a yield of 3% on the current share price.

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