3 Shares Set to Beat the FTSE Today

LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE  ) achieved a three-month high yesterday as banks and miners continued with their still-shaky recovery. 

However, the index was pushed back below 5,800 this morning by a plunging Standard Chartered (LSE: STAN.L  ) . The bank was accused by U.S. regulators of hiding extensive business with Iran, in violation of sanctions against the country. The index of top shares fell below 5,790 points before recovering to an almost unchanged level of 5,808 by midday.

But all of that didn't bother most companies, and many constituents of the various FTSE indexes were happily progressing today. Here are three names that rose this morning and look set to beat the FTSE by the close of play.

Xstrata (LSE: XTA.L  )
Miner Xstrata gained 2% to 901 pence after releasing its interim results, which showed profits hit by the slump in commodity prices. Net profit fell by a third to $1.9 billion on revenue that fell 7% to $15.5 billion. Xstrata is planning to cut capital expenditure by $1 billion this year and is still progressing with its planned merger with Glencore.

A lot of the negative outlook for commodities may already be reflected in the prices of mining shares, and the falls look overdone to many. In fact, Xstrata shares have rebounded 13% since their late-July low, with others stocks following suit: Rio Tinto shares are up 12%, and BHP Billiton is up 11%.

Premier Foods (LSE: PFD.L  )
Premier Foods
enjoyed a small boost to 73.25 pence following the release of its interim figures. The share price advance was only 1%, but after an awful run -- the shares have collapsed 98% since their 2007 peak -- anything suggesting a bottom has to be good.

The firm, which has dumped its pickles division to concentrate on key brands such as Hovis and Oxo, enjoyed a boost from the Jubilee holiday and saw underlying sales up 1%, with underlying trading profit up 3%.

A continuing cost-reduction program is progressing well, with savings of 40 million pounds expected by year-end, ahead of the previous 2013 target. Today's announcement said the company remains cautious, but it seems the turnaround plan is going well.

Meggitt (LSE: MGGT.L  )
I've been keeping an eye on this engineering business of late and was happy to see Meggitt post pleasing half-time results today that led to a share price rise of 1% to 402 pence.

A 19% rise in revenue to 776 million pounds for the six months to June 30 led to a 15% increase in underlying pretax profit to 169 million pounds. With underlying earnings per share up 14% to 16.4 pence and net debt reduced by 6% to 793 million pounds, the first-half dividend was lifted 13% to 3.6 pence per share.

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Alan Oscroft does not own any shares mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Standard Chartered. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.


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