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Why Burberry Group plc, WPP PLC And Halfords Group plc Should Beat The FTSE 100 Today

The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) is down 22 points to 6,490 approaching midday today, as the market seems to be swaying from day to day in its assessment of the Chinese economy. A nice individual rise or two has helped bolster the index of top UK shares, but the miners are dipping again after a rare up day yesterday.

But whatever the City is currently agonising over, what really counts is actual company performance. Here are three from the various indicies whose shares are responding well to positive news:

Burberry

An 18% rise in first-quarter revenue sent Burberry Group shares up 54p (3.8%) to 1,494p by late morning, with chief executive Angela Ahrendts telling us that “Spring/Summer 2013 was a standout season driven by innovative marketing, cohesive monthly fashion groups and exceptional execution…“.

As well as overall sales growth, comparable store sales grew by 13%. But despite such a strong start, adjusted pre-tax profit for the first half of the year is still expected to be lower than last year. Although, after four years of double-digit earnings per share (EPS) growth, City analysts are expecting EPS to be up another 8% for the full year.

WPP

Advertising and media giant WPP (LSE: WPP) saw its share price pick up 12p (1%) in morning trading, though at the time of writing it has fallen back a little and is up just 3p to 1,174p — still, that should be easily enough to beat a falling FTSE.

Behind today’s move was the news that WPP’s subsidiary Kantar has acquired Sirius Marketing & Social Research, a market research agency in Bangladesh — today’s announcement describes Bangladesh as “one of the fastest-growing markets in the world, identified by Goldman Sachs as a Next 11 economy“.

Halfords

Troubled cycle and auto parts dealer Halfords Group enjoyed a rare up day today, with its shares putting on 30.7p (9.6%) to 349p after the firm announced an impressive first quarter. Overall sales for the 13 weeks to 28 June rose by 8.8%, with Retail up 9% and Autocentres up 7.8%. And on a like-for-like basis, things weren’t far behind, with total sales up 7.5% — though the Autocentres like-for-like figure dropped 0.9%.

Though these numbers are pretty good, we do need to bear in mind that the equivalent quarter last year was weak. There’s an overall 15% fall in EPS for the year to March 2014 forecast, but if the City is right we could be seeing a decent recovery in 2015.

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> Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool has recommended shares in Burberry.