Why Balfour Beatty, Punch Taverns, and Xaar Should Beat the FTSE 100 Today

LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE  ) initially started this week in the same glum mood as it ended last week, but it soon snapped out of its doldrums to gain more than 1% by 8 a.m. EDT. The index is overcoming weakness in the mining sector after recent news from China suggested that the country's growth will be a little lower than previously expected.

But there are companies doing well in some other sectors. Here are three from the various FTSE indexes that are having a good day and look set to beat the general market.

Balfour Beatty (LSE: BBY  )
Balfour Beatty shares are getting a much-needed boost this morning, picking up 4.1% to 225 pence on the announcement of a new contract. The infrastructure developer has landed the job of building the Providence Tower residential scheme in London in a deal worth £110 million. Situated at New Providence Wharf, the building will be the tallest that Balfour Beatty has built in the U.K., reaching 43 floors. Construction is due to start this summer, with completion expected by December 2015.

What this will do for the firm's current year remains to be seen, but City analysts were forecasting a 35% drop in earnings per share before today. That forecast still puts the shares on a modest P/E of 9.5, so is this a buying opportunity? Only you can decide that.

Punch Taverns (LSE: PUB  )
An update for the 12 weeks to May 25 sent the shares of Punch Taverns up 4.4% to 13.3 pence, with the price now up 60% over the past 12 months. With like-for-like trends improving, the pub company says it is "on track to meet full year profit expectations," though current City estimates do suggest a 25% fall in EPS.

But of more importance, the firm has announced a new plan to restructure its debt, which is complex and currently stands at about £2 billion. If the current proposal is accepted, cash interest payments should be reduced to about £32 million per year.

Xaar (LSE: XAR  )
The big move of the day is a 23.7% rise in inkjet technologist Xaar's shares to 789 pence. The shares are up about 270% over the past 12 months now, with today's boost coming from news of soaring sales in the period from January to May. With last year bringing in revenue of £86.3 million, the firm now expects to exceed that by about 50%.

Before today, analysts were forecasting a 30% rise in EPS for the year to December, and that may well have to be revised upward now.

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