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Why FirstGroup, Vedanta Resources, and Shanks Should Beat the FTSE 100 Today

By Alan Oscroft - Apr 9, 2013 at 8:23AM

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FirstGroup, Vedanta Resources, and Shanks are all shining.

LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) has risen 0.57% to 6,313 points this morning. The main force behind the U.K.'s top-tier index appears to be the miners, which are generally up around 2% to 3%. And those in turn were buoyed by lower-than-expected Chinese inflation figures, which raise hopes that the economy will keep growing.

But which companies are beating the indexes today? Here are three that are rising.

FirstGroup shares have picked 2.9% to 207 pence after the rail and bus operator told us that full-year trading is going as expected. In a statement ahead of results due on May 22, the firm reminded us that its interim dividend was held but told us that it has still to decide on this year's final payment. It's hard to predict anything right now, with the West Coast rail franchise still on hold.

Should the final payment also be held at last year's levels, we'd be seeing a yield of more than 11% -- though many will surely be expecting to see a cut. If earnings come in close to the latest City forecasts, the shares will be on a price-to-earnings ratio of about seven.

Vedanta Resources (VED)
Shares in Vedanta Resources have gained 3.8% to 1,100 pence after the company's Indian exploration subsidiary announced an oil discovery in Rajasthan. Cairn India's latest strike takes the total number of discoveries in the RJ-ON-90/1 block to 26.

A gross oil column of approximately 10 meters was found this time, and evaluation of potential oil volume will be the next stage. Vedanta shares had been sliding since the start of the year, but they have regained about 10% in the past week.

Shanks Group (LSE: SKS)
Waste management specialist Shanks Group saw its shares rise 1.3% to 75.5 pence following an upbeat end-of-year update told us that trading has continued "robustly." Despite bad weather hampering the firm's operations, we should see full-year results in line with previous expectations.

Management of costs has been the key issue in "very challenging" market conditions, and the current plan is expected to save about 20 million pounds per year by fiscal year 2016. Results should be released on March 31.

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