Why Lloyds Banking, Halfords, and Investec Should Lag the FTSE 100 Today

LONDON -- After a period of strong rises, the FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE  ) has retrenched somewhat today, dropping 1.8% to 6,718 points by 7:55 a.m. EDT. But to put that into perspective, it's only four days since the index closed above the 6,700 level for the first time in more than six years. The immediate trigger for today's losses seems to be an overnight 7% fall in Japan's Nikkei index after Asian markets were spooked by weaker Chinese data.

Even with the FTSE falling, there are individual shares that are beating it downward. Here are three from the indexes that are losing today.

Lloyds
After rising yesterday when Lloyds Banking Group reassured the markets that its capital position was strong, the shares have slipped 2.4% today after the bank announced the sale of 77 million shares in St. James's Place at a price of 580 pence per share, raising approximately £450 million. After the sale, Lloyds continues to hold 110 million shares, or about 21% of the company.

The sale will realize a gain of about £40 million for Lloyds, and that sum will add to the bank's core tier 1 capital. The St. James's Place share price, meanwhile, has slumped by 10.2% to 575 pence.

Halfords
Spare parts, bicycles, and auto repair firm Halfords Group released full-year results this morning and saw its share price plunge by 15.3%. The key disappointment was a slashing of the firm's full-year dividend by 22.3% to 17.1 pence per share, when the market had expected it to be held at last year's 22 pence.

The final dividend was pared by 35%, and the firm told us that this rebasing would be reflected in future payouts, saying that the 2014 full-year dividend is expected to be around 14 pence per share and that payouts would be held close to that level as the company aims for a dividend cover of about two times.

Investec
The market was less than impressed by final results from Investec: The banker and asset manager's shares have fallen by 3.9% despite a 35% rise in reported pre-tax profit to £393.6 million. Adjusted earnings per share gained 16.4 pence to 37 pence, and the dividend was raised by 5.9% to 18 pence per share for a yield of 3.7% on the current price.

Looking forward, chief executive Stephen Koseff said: "The recent improvement in equity markets bodes well for our business and we are well positioned to take advantage of a sustained market upturn" -- though some will wonder if such a pronouncement may perhaps be premature.

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% 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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