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Why Bunzl plc, Stagecoach Group plc and FirstGroup plc Should Beat The FTSE 100 Today

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The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) has picked up just 7 points this morning to 6,530, with news very thin on the ground. The current lull, which looks like extending into the festive season, seems likely to extend the FTSE’s losing streak to a sixth successive week at this rate.

But we do at least have a few shares that are picking up today. Here are three from the various indices doing well:

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Bunzl

Bunzl (LSE: BNZL) shares edged up 8p (0.6%) to 1,380p in early trading, in response to a pre-close update from the outsourcing and distribution firm.

Ahead of its full-year, Bunzl told us that things are still going according to half-time expectations. Total revenue should be around 12% up at constant exchange rates, with underlying growth of about 2%.

The firm told us that acquisition is a key part of its strategy, after having spent £250m on eight takeovers during 2013 which should add some £245m in revenue annually.

Stagecoach Group

First-half results from Stagecoach Group (LSE: SGC) gave the bus and rail operator an 11.4p (3.1%) boost to 373p.

The interim dividend has been lifted by 11.5% to 2.9p per share, after adjusted earnings per share rose 2.8% to 14.6p. The firm offers a dividend yield that’s lower than average, but it’s not bad — the same boost at year-end would provide a yield of 2.6% on today’s price.

Revenue gained a little, up 2.5% to £1,474m, with adjusted pre-tax profit up just 1.1% to £105.6m. Stagecoach also reduced its net debt during the period, by £43.4m to £494.6m.

FirstGroup

Travel firms are in the news today, with FirstGroup (LSE: FGP) shares also gaining — in this case 3.1p (2.7%) to 119p.

The driver came from a proposal by Sandell Asset Management, an investor in the group, suggesting a split of the company and the disposal of some assets. If Sandell had its way, the group’s American school bus business would be spun off and floated independently, and the Greyhound bus service would be sold.

The FirstGroup board, however, said the idea is “not compelling and contains a number of structural flaws and inaccuracies“, and believes its multi-year turnaroud plan is still the way forward.

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> Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool has recommended shares in Stagecoach.

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