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Why Premier Oil, Quindell Portfolio, and Gooch & Housego Beat the FTSE 100 Today

LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE  ) started the week off on the right foot, gaining 0.43% to close at 6,277 points. There isn't any real news behind the modest rise, which has been boosted by a mild recovery in some mining shares, but poor U.S. jobs news from last Friday is causing some pessimism.

But even if things are looking a little gloomy, there are plenty of individual companies prospering. Here are three whose shares were on the up today.

Premier Oil (LSE: PMO  )
Premier Oil shares picked up 6.1% today to reach 385 pence after the oil explorer announced a new discovery in the North Sea off Norway. Premier has a 30% stake in the Luno II prospect, and the 16/4-6S well in the area has hit a "potentially significant oil discovery" with a gross oil column in excess of 40 meters. Tests will now be conducted to check for flow potential.

Premier Oil shares have picked up nicely since the start of the year, with the firm reporting record full-year earnings of $252 million last month. And shareholders are in for a dividend of 5 pence per share -- their first since 1997.

Quindell (LSE: WTG  )
A first-quarter update from Quindell Portfolio sent the firm's shares up a further 1.9% to 13.5 pence today, topping a nice start to April for the software specialist. Quindell, which provides software and outsourcing services to a number of sectors including telecoms and insurance, told us that it has achieved more than 25 million pounds in EBITDA in the three months to March and that margins are better than expected.

The company says it is on track to meet full-year expectations, which suggests that we should see a better-than-doubling of earnings per share, putting the shares on a forward P/E of around 10. Growth bargain? Could be.

Gooch & Housego (LSE: GHH  )
Shares in optical-components specialist Gooch & Housego have done well over the past month, and they gained a further 3.4% to 455 pence today after a first-half trading update told us the firm's order book now stands at 29.6 million pounds, up 19% from the start of the year.

The U.S. aerospace and defense market has been tough, but Gooch & Housego has won orders from European customers in the same industry and has strengthened its Asian presence by starting up a Japanese subsidiary and expanding in Singapore and China. Trading so far is "in line with expectations."

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