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Why Marks and Spencer Group Plc, Imperial Tobacco Group PLC and Shire PLC Should Beat The FTSE 100 Today

The good start to the week made by the FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) came to a halt today, as it fell 37 points to 6,726 by late morning. The index of top UK shares has been shaken by a number of big-company updates today, with falls for RSA Insurance and Legal & General exerting downwards pressure. As it stands, the FTSE is now nine points down on the week so far — still far too early to guess which way the week will go.

But it’s not all gloom, and a number of the index’s major constituents are on the up. Here are three having a good day:

Marks and Spencer

Marks and Spencer Group shares picked up 16p (3.3%) this morning to reach 503p, on the occasion of the company’s first-half results. Headlined “Marks & Spencer transformation on track“, the report revealed a 3.8% rise in total revenue for the second quarter and a 3.6% rise for the half — but disappointingly, General Merchandise (including clothing) revenue is still down on a like-for-like basis, by 1.5% for the half.

Total sales amounted to £4.9bn, with underlying pre-tax profit falling 9% to £261.6m and underlying earnings per share dropping 4.2% to 13.5p. But the interim dividend was held at 6.2p per share, and it was still more then twice covered.

Investors seem to be satisfied with overall progress, pushing the shares up close to 30% over the past 12 months.

Imperial Tobacco

Imperial Tobacco Group shares have not been having a great time, dropping 4% over the past 12 months. But they got a bit of respite this morning with a 60p (2.6%) lift to 2,370p after the firm released full-year results.

Tobacco net revenue was flat at £7.01bn, but the company saw a 1% rise in adjusted operating profit to £3.18bn and a 5% rise in adjusted earnings per share. The full-year dividend was raised 10% to 116.4p per share, for a yield of 4.9% on the latest price.

The firm’s focus has been on its Growth Brands and Growth Markets, both of which have seen revenue gains of 2%.

Shire

Shire (LSE: SHP) shares gained 43p (1.5%) to 2,863 by late morning, taking them up 60% over the past 12 months.

The driver today was news of positive drug-test results for the company’s Vyanase capsules for treating adults binge-eating disorder (BED). Vyanase was found to be more effective than placebo in both of the studies undertaken, and chief executive Flemming Ornskov, M.D., said that Shire will “submit an application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a new indication of BED for Vyvanse“.

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