3 Shares Set to Beat the FTSE Today

LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE  ) gained around 20 points this morning to a lunchtime level of 5,844 points. What did I say yesterday about miners and banks being down one day and up the next? Well, today it's miners that are lifting the index of the U.K.'s biggest shares, though some banks and financials are up, too.

Good news from constituents of the various FTSE indexes all helps to make up the big picture. Here are three set to beat the FTSE today.

Ophir (LSE: OPHR.L  )
Ophir Energy
hit paydirt, sending its shares up 4.5% to 549 pence today. The explorer, operating in Equatorial Guinea, told us that drilling at its Block-R Fortuna East-1 well has encountered gas, and that gas has also been found at its Viscata target, which is deeper.

Block-R, of which Ophir owns an 80% stake, has delivered six successful hits to date, and that is the main driving force behind Ophir's share price, which has almost tripled over the past 12 months. (In fact, it went higher than that before falling back a little over the past month.)

Barclays (LSE: BARC.L  )
Barclays
enjoyed a further boost today as the shares rose 2% to 195 pence after the bank announced it is in talks to combine its African operations. Barclays currently operates its Absa subsidiary as a separate entity but is planning to merge it with Barclays Africa. The proposal will cover Barclays' interests in a number of African countries, including South Africa.

Barclays shares have now regained 30% since hitting a low of around 150 pence in the depths of the LIBOR-fixing fallout.

Heritage (LSE: HOIL.L  )
Back to oil and gas, Heritage Oil got a welcome 15% boost to 194 pence on the announcement that it will sell a 26% interest in its Miran block to Genel for a cash consideration of $156 million. In addition, Genel will provide a $294 million exchangeable loan to Heritage on completion of the sale.

The two firms will operate the block jointly, with Heritage owning a total stake of 49% and Genel holding the remaining 51%.

So, there are two profitable pieces of news from the oil and gas exploration sector today, and it's a sector that can yield riches if you pick the right companies. If that sounds like your kind of investment, the latest Motley Fool report, "How to Unearth Great Oil & Gas Shares," could be just what you want. Click here to get your copy while it's still available.

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Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article. 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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