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Why Vodafone Group plc, WPP PLC And Melrose Industries PLC Should Beat The FTSE 100 Today

The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) is finally picking up a bit, putting on 45 points to reach 6,475 by mid-morning as a few big company results are giving it a boost. The gain today reverses two days of losses for the UK’s top index, but it is still 17 points down on the week — and if it doesn’t recover some more before the end of Friday, we’ll be in losing territory for the fourth week in a row:

But which companies are elevating the FTSE today? Here are three:

Vodafone

In a long-awaited surprise announcement this morning, Vodafone Group revealed that it is in talks with Verizon Communications with a view to the possible disposal of Vodafone’s 45% stake in Verizon Wireless. The announcement, which came as a response to recent press speculation, confirms what many observers have long thought inevitable.

Vodafone is unlikely to let go of Verizon Wireless cheaply, and any deal should provide a handsome sum for Vodafone to either hand back to shareholders or, probably more likely, reinvest in its business. Either way, the markets were pleased, and the shares spiked up 17.65p (9.3%) to 207p, taking them to a 12-year high.

WPP

Advertising and media firm WPP (LSE: WPP) (NASDAQ: WPPGY.US) has rewarded shareholders well over the past 12 months, with its share price gaining around 45% — and that includes a 38p (3.2%) boost today as a result of impressive first-half results.

Revenue is up 7.1% to £5.3bn, with a like-for-like gain of 2.4%. From that, WPP made a headline pre-tax profit of £524m, which is up 12% and broke the first-half half-billion-pound mark for the very first time. Headline diluted earnings per share (EPS) gained 10% to 28.4p and the firm has upped its interim dividend by 20% to 10.56p per share.

Melrose Industries

Melrose Industries (LSE: MRO) also had a nice start to the day, up 10.8p (3.8%) to 295p, and again it was due to first-half results. Performance at Melrose, which buys up and turns around troubled engineering companies, is naturally erratic over the short term, but a more than doubling of revenue to £1.02bn did please the markets.

Pre-tax profit, before exceptionals, did the same, climbing from £65.9m a year ago to £139.4m, though diluted EPS only gained 5% to 8.6p. The interim dividend has been raised 6% to 2.75p per share.

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