3 Shares the FTSE Should Beat Today

LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE  ) isn't really recovering any of last week's losses yet, as it's up only 17 points to 5,786 at the time of writing. Last week's U.S. market falls and downbeat eurozone economic news seem to have spoiled investors' appetites for shares at the moment.

The index itself might be flat, but there are still plenty of individual companies moving -- sadly, some downward. Here are three that are dropping today.

Cape (LSE: CIU.L  )
Shares in Cape crashed 28% to 188 pence after the third profit warning this year, leading finance director Richard Bingham and the oil-and-gas services firm to part company by mutual consent.

We were told of "substantial deterioration" in the group's Australian division, which included both poor operational performance and discrepancies uncovered in its balance sheet relating to the valuation of some items. While the investigation into the accounts is ongoing, full-year expectations remain "uncertain."

San Leon Energy (LSE: SLE.L  )
San Leon Energy's share price had a similarly bad day, plunging 14% to 8.3 pence following the announcement of the acquisition of fellow oil and gas explorer Aurelian Oil & Gas (LSE: AUL.L  ) . The all-share deal will exchange each Aurelian share for 1.3 new San Leon shares, giving existing San Leon shareholders 34% of the merged company and existing Aurelian shareholders the other 66%.

FirstGroup (LSE: FGP.L  )
FirstGroup fell a little today, losing a modest 1% to 187 pence after the travel operator announced the sale of its Birkenhead and Chester bus operations to Stagecoach as part of plans to get rid of low-margin businesses and focus on services with stronger growth potential.

FirstGroup shares are now down more than 20% since the cancellation of the West Coast rail franchise and about 45% over the past 12 months.

How does Britain's ace investor Neil Woodford avoid big falls like the ones these three companies have suffered? He goes for a strategy of buying solid blue-chip shares paying dependable long-term dividends. And in doing so, he keeps on beating the FTSE year after year. If you want to see how Woodford manages it, the free Motley Fool report "8 Shares Held By Britain's Super Investor" takes a look at some of his key holdings. To get your copy, click here while it's still available.

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.

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