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Why WS Atkins PLC, Anite plc And Avon Rubber plc Should Lag The FTSE 100 Today

After a hefty 104-point fall yesterday, its biggest daily drop for two months, the FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) appears to be going nowhere much today, down 7 points to 6,476 by late morning. It’s uncertainty about the future of economic stimulus policy and interest rates that’s causing the growly mood at the moment, with improving figures suggesting the time might soon be ripe for the UK and US economies to start standing on their own feet again.

There are very few shares doing much today either, but here are three from the FTSE indices that look unlikely to beat the market:

WS Atkins

WS Atkins (LSE: ATK) shares dipped 10p (1%) to 1,161p after the firm announced the disposal of Peter Brown — thankfully, that’s a US subsidiary company and not a board member. The construction consultancy is to be sold to Moss & Associates of Florida, for a cash sum of £2.6m, and Atkins should see a loss on disposal of around £3m.

Chief executive Prof Dr Uwe Krueger told us that “The disposal of our Peter Brown business is another step in the implementation of our strategy, which includes the optimisation of our portfolio of businesses“.

Anite

Anite (LSE: AIE), which develops testing software for the mobile phones business, saw its share price slump by 13p (10.4%) to 113p this morning, after a first-quarter update told us that trading “has been relatively quiet“, with its handset testing services having “a slow start to the current year” and bringing in lower revenue and profit than the comparative period a year ago.

Net debt increased sharply too, up from £0.9m at 30 April to £4m at 31 July. The firm did stress, however, that its first quarter is seasonally slow, and that the rise in debt was “in line with normal seasonal patterns“.

Avon Rubber

An interim update from Avon Rubber (LSE: AVON) sent the firm’s shares down 11.7p (2.4%) to 477p, despite an assurance that full-year results are expected to be in line with market expectations. Net debt was up a little, from £8.7m in September 2012 to £11.4m as of 30 June 2013 — but a couple of acquisitions added £3m of that, and the firm says its balance sheet is robust.

Earnings per share are expected to be up just 2% for the year to September and there’s a 9% rise forecast for the following year, putting the shares on a P/E of 14 falling to around 13.5 for the two years respectively. The dividend yield is low, at around 1%.

Finally, you can compensate for the day-to-day ups and downs of share prices by looking for reliable dividends. So how would you like a company that’s offering a 5% yield and which could be set for some nice share-price appreciation, too?

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> Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article.