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Why Anglo American plc, The Sage Group plc And PZ Cussons plc Should Beat The FTSE 100 Today

The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) is edging up a bit today after the Chinese government has offered reassurances that growth in the country will not fall too far — premier Li Keqiang is reported to have said that growth must not be allowed to fall below 7%. Rises in the US and in Asian markets have given the FTSE a boost today too.

But which companies are ahead of the UK’s biggest index? Here are three in that happy state today:

Anglo American

Anglo American (LSE: AAL) is continuing its July mini-surge, with a 33p (2.3%) price gain to 1,438p this morning after the miner revealed first-half results from Kumba Iron Ore Limited. Although earnings are down on the first half last year, that was expected, and Kumba will add $579m to Anglo American’s underlying earnings for the six months to 30 June — the results will be released on 26 July.

Since a low of 1,196p on 3 July, Anglo American shares have so far gained 20% to today’s price, partly buoyed by brightening economic indications from China. Full-year forecasts put the shares on a P/E of 11 with a dividend yield of 4.1%, improving to 10 and 4.4% respectively for December 2014.

Sage Group

An update from Sage Group gave the business software specialist’s shares a boost, sending them up 14.8p (4.2%) to 368p — they’re now up more than 30% over the past 12 months. Trading is said to be still in line with expectations, with business in the UK and Ireland strong, and “resilient” in Europe in the face of tough economic conditions. North America is still going well too.

The firm also says that cash generation is good, and told us it has repurchased a further 12 million shares since 1 April for £40.5m, as part of its ongoing buyback programme.

PZ Cussons

Full-year results sent the price of PZ Cussons (LSE: PZC) shares up 11p (2.9%) to 399p today. The consumer products firm told us of a 2.8% rise in revenue to £883m and a 16.5% rise in pre-tax profit to £107.5m. Adjusted earnings per share climbed by 12.8% to 16.62p, and the firm’s dividend was lifted 10% to 7.39p per share for a yield of 2%. Cussons ended the year with net cash of £3.4m, against a net debt of £17.9m a year previously.

With two more years of earnings growth forecast, current City expectations put Cussons shares on a forward P/E of a slightly heady 21 for the year to May 2014, dropping to 19 for 2015.

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> Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares in PZ Cussons.