Why Royal Bank of Scotland, Direct Line Insurance, and Quindell Portfolio Should Lag the FTSE 100 Today

LONDON -- Yesterday's cut in the European Central Bank's benchmark interest rate from 0.75% to 0.5% gave the FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE  ) a late boost, but that has not really carried over to today: The index of the U.K.'s biggest public companies up just 1.2% to 6,537 points as of 9:35 a.m. EDT. Despite the cut, news that eurozone manufacturing shrank in April brought gloom.

And there are companies that aren't even doing that well today. Here are three on the way down.

Royal Bank of Scotland
Royal Bank of Scotland Group shares have dropped 4.9% pence this morning, although the bailed-out bank reported a pre-tax profit for the quarter of 826 million pounds -- the first time it has been in the black since September 2011.

Chief executive Stephen Hester told us: "We expect to substantially complete the Bank's restructuring phase during 2014. We are seeing the start of a pick-up in loan demand and have a strong surplus of funds ready and available to fully support economic recovery."

Direct Line
Shares in Direct Line Insurance Group have fallen 1.1% to 202 pence even though the firm reported a 33% rise in operating profit to 107.5 million pounds. But on the downside, gross written premiums were down 4.5%, which the company says owed to competitive market conditions in the U.K.

The Direct Line share price has been steadily falling from its January high of 226 pence, but it's still above the flotation price. Forecasts for the year to December suggest an earnings fall, but analysts are still betting on a dividend yield of about 6.2%, although it's unlikely to be well-covered.

Quindell Portfolio (LSE: QPP  )
The Quindell Portfolio share price has been on an uptick of late, but it has slipped back 5.5% to 13 pence today after the software and consultancy firm announced a move into the property insurance market. The acquisition of a number of businesses under the newly formed Quindell Property Services umbrella will enable Quindell to provide "disruptive outsourcing and technology solutions to the property insurance market place."

The move is not expected to enhance group earnings this year, but Quindell believes there is a potential for 10 million pounds in pre-tax profit from 2014 onward.

Finally, reliable dividends can more than compensate for the day-to-day ups and downs of share prices. So how about a company that's offering a 5.7% yield and could be set for some nice share-price appreciation, too? It's the subject of our brand-new report "The Motley Fool's Top Income Share For 2013," which you can get completely free of charge -- but it will only be available for a limited period, so click here to get your copy today.


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