LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES:^FTSE) looks set to end the week strongly, having set yet another 52-week high today of 6,483 points before dropping back to 6,455, up 0.25% for the day. Barring any late reversal, this should be the third day in a row the index of top U.K. shares ends above 6,400 points.
Strong results and various bits of good news have mainly been behind this week's advance. Here are three companies set to do even better and beat the index today.
Vodafone (LSE:VOD) (NASDAQ:VOD)
Vodafone shares are up another 1.2% to 181 pence this morning on the announcement of a new deal with the New Zealand Police. Vodafone New Zealand has been chosen to provide the force with mobile communications in a 10-year deal. The initial cost will be NZ$4.3 million, with operating expenditure over the 10 years of NZ$159 million.
Vodafone shares have climbed 8% since the beginning of March, but they're still on a forward price-to-earnings ratio for this year of less than 12, which is below the FTSE's long-term average. And there's a dividend of about 6% expected.
Full-year results from landscape products specialist Marshalls gave the shares a 4.3% boost to 110 pence despite a drop in revenue and profit -- but investors appear to be pleased with the firm's ongoing restructuring and cost-cutting.
From continuing operations, before restructuring costs and asset impairments (which brought a one-off cost of 21.5 million pounds), Marshalls saw revenue of 309.7 million pounds, down 7% from the previous year, with similarly adjusted pre-tax profit down 24% to 10.4 million pounds and earnings per share down 7% to 5.9 pence. Net debt at the end of the year fell from 77.1 million pounds to 63.5 million pounds. The final dividend was left unchanged at 3.5 pence per share, "reflecting confidence in the future."
Advanced Computer Software (LSE:ASW)
A year-end trading update and news of an acquisition sent Advanced Computer Software shares up 4.9 pence 6.4% to 95 pence -- they're now up 80% over the past 12 months. The provider of health-care and business-management software expects revenue for the year to Feb. 28 of no less than 119 million pounds, up 21% on 2012. Adjusted EBITDA should be up 10% to at least 26.6 million pounds, with year-end net cash of 3 million pounds (compared to net debt of 1.1 million pounds a year prior).
The firm also told us today that it has acquired Computer Software Holdings for 110 million pounds, financed by a combination of existing cash, a recent share placing that raised 44 million pounds, and new bank debt.
When we see shares rising like these, attention must surely turn to investing in growth possibilities (though a side helping of dividends is always a welcome addition). But finding companies that have not yet achieved their full potential is not always easy, which is why the Motley Fool's best analysts have put their heads together to bring you their top growth selection for 2013. You can find out what it is completely free of charge, but the report will be available for a limited period only. So click here to get your copy today.