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Why Debenhams, GKN, and Persimmon Should Beat the FTSE 100 Today

By Alan Oscroft - Apr 18, 2013 at 8:14AM

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Welcome boosts for Debenhams, GKN, and Persimmon.

LONDON -- After falling for four trading days in a row, the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) is finally recovering a little ground today, up a modest 0.32% to 6,264 points by 7:50 a.m. EDT. Depressed commodities prices are still keeping mining shares down, and the mood seems to be generally bearish, with some fearing that we could be in for a fall back below the 6,000 level.

But some individual companies are doing fine. Here are three that are on the up today.

Debenhams
Interim results have sent Debenhams shares up 7.4% to 86 pence. Like-for-like sales rose 3.1% compared with the first half of last year, and though pre-tax profit fell by 5.4% to 120.3 million pounds, bottom-line earnings gained 2.7% to 7.6 pence per share. There will be an interim dividend of 1 pence per share, and the firm's long-term share buyback plan is progressing. And in these days when brick-and-mortar sales are not enough, it's good to hear that Debenhams' online sales grew by 46% to account for 12.7% of total sales.

Current forecasts suggest flat earnings this year, so we'll have to wait and see if that is upgraded now. There's a dividend yield of about 4% expected.

GKN
An interim update from GKN has sent the auto and aerospace engineer's share price 3.4% to 254 pence today after first-quarter sales rose 9% to 1.89 billion pounds, boosted by last year's acquisition of the former Volvo Aero (now GKN Aerospace Engine Systems). Pre-tax profit did fall a little, down 4% to 119 million pounds, but that was partly due to a one-off 23 million pound restructuring charge.

Chief executive Nigel Stein said: "With restructuring charges now largely behind us, we expect the remainder of the year to show improvement."

Persimmon (PSN 0.47%)
Shares in homebuilder Persimmon have gained almost 1% and are now up nearly 80% over the past 12 months. Today's boost came from an update to coincide with today's annual general meeting that told us of a "good start to 2013," with numbers of visitors to the firm's development sites up 5% during the first 15 weeks of the year.

The government's new "Help to Buy" measures have also boosted enquiries, which are running 30% ahead of last year (and were 24% ahead prior to the announcement of the scheme).

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