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Why Mothercare, WH Smith, and PZ Cussons Should Beat the FTSE 100 Today

By Alan Oscroft - Apr 11, 2013 at 8:26AM

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Mothercare, WH Smith, and PZ Cussons are on the rise.

LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) continues its slow recovery, having put on another 0.21% to reach 6,401 points by 8 a.m. EDT. The blue-chip index has been boosted by a 3% rise in the Marks & Spencer price after the retail chain reported its best-ever Easter Week for food. But on the downside, a number of our largest miners have begun to slip after a good couple of days.

But what of companies in the news? Here are three from the various indexes that are looking good today.

Mothercare (MTC -9.41%)
Mothercare shares have leapt 7.2% to 313 pence after the firm told us its U.K. store closure plan is ahead of schedule and sales have stabilized in its fourth quarter. While like-for-like sales are flat, the firm's Direct Internet business saw an 18.2% rise in sales, prompting chief executive Simon Calver to say, "We can look ahead to the new year with confidence."

With international sales rising by 15.5% during Q4 and the firm's focus firmly on cash gross margin, Mothercare was able to confirm that underlying pre-tax profit for the full year is in line with market expectations.

WH Smith (SMWH -0.03%)
Another High Street name is doing well today: Shares in WH Smith have climbed 3.8% to 773.5 pence on the release of interim figures. Total pre-tax profit for the group is up 5% for the six months to Feb. 28 to 69 million pounds. That led to bottom line earnings-per-share growth of 11% to 44.2 pence, enabling the company to lift its interim dividend by 13% to 9.4 pence per share.

The strong performance came from Smith's two divisions: Travel saw a 7% rise in trading profit to 29 million pounds, while the equivalent High Street figure gained 2% to 48 million pounds.

PZ Cuzzons
Maker of toiletries and other household products PZ Cussons saw its shares rise 1.8% to 394 pence after the firm released an interim management statement. For the quarter to April 10, performance, including cash generation, was in line with management expectations.

Business is tough in some of the company's markets, with its largest, Nigeria, facing social and political unrest. But the firm still believes the rest of the year should go according to expectations, and it should return to profitable growth.

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Stocks Mentioned

WH Smith PLC Stock Quote
WH Smith PLC
$1,519.50 (-0.03%) $0.50
Mothercare plc Stock Quote
Mothercare plc
$7.70 (-9.41%) $0.80

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