LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) has dipped back below the 6,300 level today, standing at 6,288 points as of 8 a.m. EST, down 35 points on the day. There hasn't been any sudden change of economic sentiment today, but falls for Royal Dutch Shell and AstraZeneca have weighed the index down a little.
But there are plenty of individual companies likely to beat the FTSE today. Here are three that are rising on the back of good news.
Diageo (LSE:DGE) (NYSE:DEO)
Diageo shares got a boost today from strong interim results, perking up 2.3% to 1,896 pence -- that's more than 30% up over the past 12 months. For the six months to Dec. 31, the drinks giant recorded 5% organic net sales growth, with organic operating profit up 9%. Free cash flow was boosted by 100 million pounds to 700 million pounds, and the firm lifted its interim dividend by 9%.
Diageo's earnings and dividends have been rising steadily, even through the recession, and further growth is forecast for this full year and for next. The shares are currently on a price-to-earnings ratio of 18, but that's not too far above the long-term FTSE average of 14, and we should expect quality companies to be valued above average.
Lamprell (LSE: LAM)
Lamprell enjoyed some welcome respite today after its share price got a 5.1% lift to 129 pence following the release of an upbeat trading update. The firm, which offers engineering and contracting services to the oil and gas industry, saw its shares crash last May when it released a pretty severe profit warning, and the stock has pretty much languished since then.
Today we learned that the firm has been picking up new contracts for rig refurbishment and that it is in ongoing talks for its lenders to secure its long-term financial viability. Things are apparently stable with healthy working capital, and year-end guidance was reiterated.
Shares in Sirius Minerals have stormed up since last summer, putting on an extra 2.2% to 28 pence today following an update on the firm's planning application for onshore mining in Yorkshire. The potash development firm has submitted application documents relating to its York Potash Project and expects a decision sometime in May.
It's hard to put any rational valuation on the company right now, as we're not into profit territory yet, but approval for this plan should give it a crucial boost.
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