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Why Booker, Cranswick, and KCOM Should Lag the FTSE 100 Today

By Alan Oscroft - Apr 4, 2013 at 9:00AM

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Booker, Cranswick, and KCOM all slip on mixed news.

LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) has been gradually slipping throughout today's trading session, down 0.7% to 6,376 as of 8:40 a.m. EDT. The Bank of Japan has said it will keep up its bond-buying, and further stimulus is expected from Europe and the U.S. as well, and that all helps to offset fears of a slow economic recovery.

But even when the FTSE is down, there are some companies that can't take advantage of that to catch up. Here are three shares falling today.

Booker (BOK)
Booker Group shares have dropped 1% to 122 pence in early trading after the firm told us sales for the fourth quarter were up 2.3% on the same period last year, with nontobacco sales up 4.3%. Total sales for the 52 weeks to March 29 rose 3.5%, with like-for-like sales up 3.3%. (These sales figures do not include Makro, which was acquired by Booker in July 2012.)

Chief executive Charles Wilson said, "We are into the final stage of the Competition Commission's review of the Makro acquisition and we remain confident that a combination of Booker and Makro will improve choice, prices and service for caterers, retailers and small businesses in the UK."

Cranswick (CWK 2.27%)
Shares in Cranswick have dropped a modest 0.2% to 1,013 pence. It's only a small fall, but it seems surprising after the meat supplier posted an upbeat fourth-quarter update telling us of a 5% rise in underlying sales for the year to March 31. Total sales were higher, up 7% including the contribution from Kingston Foods, which Cranswick acquired on June 29, 2012.

Cranswick shares have gained nearly 40% since late November, but they're still only on a price-to-earnings ratio of 13 based on expectations for the current year, with a 3% dividend expected. Full results are due on May 20.

KCOM Group had suffered a minor fall, down 0.5% to 81 pence after starting the day higher. Today brought us a pre-close update ahead of results due on June 11, which will bring us details of the company's future dividend policy. Trading has been in line with expectations, suggesting a modest 2% rise in earnings, which should put the shares on a P/E of 11.

KCOM also told us it has reached an agreement with its pension fund trustees aimed at rectifying the fund's deficit. This will involve transferring a number of freehold properties to a new partnership, providing the pension scheme with an additional 1.05 million pounds in income per year.

Finally, reliable dividends can more than compensate for the day-to-day ups and downs of share prices. So how about a company that's offering a 5.7% yield and which could be set for some nice share-price appreciation, too? It's the subject of our brand-new report, "The Motley Fool's Top Income Share For 2013," which you can get completely free of charge -- but it will only be available for a limited period, so click here to get your copy today.

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Stocks Mentioned

KCOM Group PLC Stock Quote
Booker Group PLC Stock Quote
Booker Group PLC
Cranswick plc Stock Quote
Cranswick plc
$3,158.00 (2.27%) $70.00

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