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Why Home Retail Group Plc, Sports Direct International Plc and Laird PLC Should Beat The FTSE 100 Today

After a strong finish yesterday, the FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) just couldn’t keep up its gradual rise and slipped back 30 points to 6,666 by mid-morning. A few big companies did go ex-dividend today, mind, and the index of top London stocks is still 43 points up on the week so far. If things stay like this we could be on for three weeks of rises in a row.

We have a few big gains from individual shares today, too. Here are three from the FTSE indices with positive updates:

Home Retail

Home Retail Group (LSE: HOME) has achieved a remarkable recovery this year, with its share price gaining 85% over 12 months, after a successful turnaround at Argos. And this morning we saw a further 8.7p (4.7%) rise to 193p on the release of first-half results.

The transformation of Argos into an internet-led business is going well, with online sales growing by 124% to now account for 43% of total Argos sales. And it’s not just Argos — multi-channel sales at Homebase rose by 28%.

Total sales were up 3% to £2,596m, and like-for-like sales gained 2.3% at Argos and 5.9% at Homebase. Benchmark pre-tax profit is up 53% to £27.4m, earnings per share is up 79% to 2.5p, and the interim dividend was held at 1p per share.

Sports Direct International

Sports Direct International (LSE: SPD) shares haven’t climbed quite as far as Home Retail’s, but they have put on 75% over the past year, today popping up 13.4p (2%) to 720p after a trading update ahead of first-half results due on 12 December.

Total sales for the nine weeks to 29 September were up 15.1% to £463.7m with gross profit up 19.7% to £170.9m. Chief executive Dave Forsey sounded very positive, saying that the board is confident of reaching its full-year EBITDA target of £310m.

Laird

High-tech electronics specialist Laird (LSE: LRD) told us today that its third-quarter revenue reached £141m, up 6% from the same period a year ago, with a 4% increase on an organic basis. For the nine months, however, organic revenue was down 3% to £385m.

Overall the quarter was in line with expectations, with chief David Lockwood saying “We have returned to year on year growth in the third quarter […] We are making good strategic progress and our expectations for the year remain unchanged.

The share price responded with a 14.3p (6.3%) jump to 240p, taking it up 10% over the year after an impressive recovery since the summer’s slump.

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