Why Johnson Matthey, WPP, and Alliance Pharma Should Beat the FTSE 100 Today

LONDON -- Up, down, up, down...and sideways. That's the FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE  ) this week, as it has barely moved so far today, up just 0.16% to 6,430 points as of 8:15 a.m. EDT. There's still no news on the uncertainty surrounding the future of economic-stimulus policies, and market movements appear to be little more than random noise at the moment.

But good company performances can usually be trusted to help counter the noise, so which ones are in the news today? Here are three from the various indexes.

Johnson Matthey
Johnson Matthey shares have spiked 6.4% to 2,750 pence after the specialist metals and chemicals firm reported a smaller-than-expected fall in its full-year results. Underlying pre-tax profit fell by 9% to £389 million, with underlying earnings per share down just 2% to 150 pence. The full-year dividend was lifted by 4% to 57 pence for a yield of 3.3%, though there was no repeat of last year's special dividend.

Although the falling prices of precious metals hurt Johnson Matthey's business this year, there was some compensation in catalyst sales to the U.S. automotive market, which has been recovering. Chief executive Neil Carson said, "In the medium term, growth is expected to accelerate in 2014/15 and beyond, driven particularly by tighter vehicle emissions legislation."

WPP (LSE: WPP  ) (NASDAQ: WPPGY  )
WPP shares have gained a modest 0.5% after the advertising giant revealed an acquisition. The firm's wholly owned operating network VML will take a 49% stake in Polish digital agency Heureka Group, with an option to acquire a majority stake at a later date.

WPP's share price had been falling a little in recent weeks, but it's still up about 45% over the past 12 months. Going on forecasts for the year to December 2013, the shares are on a P/E of just less than 14, with a dividend yield of about 3% expected.

Alliance Pharma (LSE: APH  )
Moving to the small-cap end of the market, Alliance Pharma shares have picked up 3.2% to 37.7 pence on news that the firm has acquired all rights to the obstetric drug Syntometrine from Novartis. Alliance already had the U.K. rights, and this extension will cost the firm $11.5 million. Syntometrine brought in revenue of $3.2 million in the 12 months to March 2013.

The cost of the deal will come from existing cash and acquisition facilities, leaving Alliance with a further £10 million to spend in case it eyes up any more juicy targets.

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9/22/2014 11:16 AM
APH $33.25 Up +0.38 +1.14%
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