3 Shares the FTSE Should Beat Today

LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE  ) is continuing its strong run this week and was up 27 points to 5,896 by early afternoon -- and it did break the psychologically significant but otherwise unimportant 5,900 level a little earlier. With U.K. economic news looking fairly positive, how long will it be before we reach that other arbitrary barrier of 6,000?

But not everything is up today, and despite the overall optimism, some individual companies in the FTSE indexes are sliding a little. Here are three names trailing the wider market:

Pearson (LSE: PSON.L  )
Pearson
, the owner of the Financial Times, fell 1.4% to 1,225 pence as analysts claimed the firm may have overpaid for EmbanetCompass, an online learning business. Announced earlier in the week, the deal carries a $650 million price-tag -- that's five times sales.

Pearson shares have had an erratic year. They're up around 5% overall over the last 12 months, but the ride has been rocky. Forecasts suggest a full-year dividend of about 3.5% and a price-to-earnings ratio of about 14, which suggests neither over- nor undervaluation.

Lloyds Banking (LSE: LLOY.L  )
Lloyds Banking Group fell 2% to 42 pence after opening up on the day when Royal Bank of Scotland gained on news that it is to exit the government's asset protection scheme.

Like RBS, Lloyds is forecast to return to profit this year, but its shares are on a higher forward P/E for December 2012 of 26. That falls to 12 based on 2013 forecasts, but it's probably high enough to leave a number of investors feeling a bit twitchy.

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Shanta Gold (LSE: SHG.L  )
Looking to much smaller companies, Shanta Gold slumped by 17% to 17.3 pence today after announcing plans to raise at least $30 million from institutional and ordinary investors. The cash is needed to fund increased production at the firm's New Luika Gold Mine in Tanzania.

Shanta is not expected to turn its first profit until 2013, but with gold price forecasts firming, is the share a good bet for speculators? Well, that's up to you to decide.

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Alan Oscroft does not own any shares mentioned in this article. he 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.


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