LONDON -- News that the U.K. economy has so far avoided a triple-dip recession, instead growing by 0.3% in the first three months of the year, had little effect on a gloomy FTSE 100. The index of the U.K.'s biggest public companies is down eight points to 6,424 approaching midday. But we have seen a couple of fallers today, with Unilever and AstraZeneca both being hit by pressure on sales and profits.
But some shares are on the up. Here are three that look comfortably ahead of the FTSE:
British American Tobacco
First-quarter figures sent British American Tobacco shares up 77 pence (2.2%) in morning trading to 3,625 pence, after the cigarette giant revealed a 5% rise in revenues for the three months to March 31. But although revenues are up, actual cigarette volumes were down by 3.7% to 160 billion with total tobacco volumes down 3.4%.
While British American is doing well at improving its profits from its premium brands, there are some concerns that worldwide tobacco consumption might be peaking in terms of volumes, which could put pressure on future growth.
An interim statement from Taylor Wimpey gave the housebuilder's shares a 1.9 pence (2%) boost to 96 pence this morning. Released on the day of the firm's AGM, the update told us of a "strong start to 2013," with an increase in visitor levels and reservations. Sales performance so far had come in toward the top of the company's expectations, with the government's "Help to Buy" scheme apparently bringing in more business.
After the recent price rise, Taylor Wimpey shares are now on a forward P/E of 16, which is above the FTSE average. But with the housing market just at the start of a hoped-for recovery, forecasts for 2014 bring that down to 13.
Aerospace and defense engineer Senior also released an AGM-day update today, and again it boosted the firm's share price -- Senior shares are up 7.3 pence (3%) to 247 pence at the time of writing. With Senior's major customers including Boeing and Airbus, news that B787 deliveries are due to recommence has provided a boost, though Senior told us that the large commercial aircraft market has been healthy.
The year has gone "marginally ahead of expectations" so far, with expectations for full-year profits currently unchanged. First-half results are due on 29 July.
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