Why National Express Group PLC, N Brown Group plc And Thorntons plc Should Beat The FTSE 100 Today

National Express Group PLC (LON: NEX), N Brown Group plc (LON: BWNG) and Thorntons plc (LON: THT) start the week well.

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The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) is slipping a little today, down 29 points to 6,278 by late morning, as the UK’s banks are taking a bit of a hit after quite a strong day yesterday. But there’s no real macroeconomic news around at the moment, as markets wait for the next pronouncements from the Bank of England and the European Central Bank, and for Friday’s US jobs figures.

Which shares are going in the opposite direction to the FTSE? Here are three from the various indices gaining ground today:

National Express Group

A first-half pre-close update gave National Express Group (LSE: NEX) shares a small boost this morning, of 3p (1.3%) to 232p — over the year, they’re around 8% up and lagging the FTSE. Business at the transport operator has been in line with expectations, with revenue for the period up 7% on a constant-currency basis.

Trading in North America was particularly strong, with revenue up 19%. And despite a weak first quarter for bus passenger numbers, the UK has delivered modest revenue growth overall. First-half results are due on 24 July.

N Brown

N Brown Group (LSE: BWNG) released a trading statement on the day of its AGM, and the share price responded with a 9.2p (2%) rise to 475p by the time of writing — and earlier in the morning, it hit a 52-week high of 495.8p before falling back a bit.

The firm told us that “the positive trends we disclosed when we reported our full year results on 1 May 2013 have improved even further in the last 10 weeks“, with revenue for the 17 weeks to 29 June up 8% overall and like-for-like sales up 7.8%.

February 2014 forecasts for the internet and catalogue sales company put the shares on a P/E of 16 after the recent price rise, with a predicted dividend yield of 3.3%.

Thorntons

If you want to see an impressive retail recovery, look no further than chocolate-maker Thorntons (LSE: THT), whose share price has five-bagged in just 12 months. And today there was a modest further rise of 1% to 95.8p, after the company told us that profits for the final quarter were boosted by “a combination of sales growth and careful cost management“. Pre-exceptional pre-tax profit for the year should come in ahead of market expectations.

The market is currently expecting a £3.42m profit, after two years of losses, and that may well be upgraded now. Final results are expected on 11 September, with a Q4 update due on 15 July.

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

Should you invest, the value of your investment may rise or fall and your capital is at risk. Before investing, your individual circumstances should be assessed. Consider taking independent financial advice.

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