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Why Group, WS Atkins PLC And Dignity Plc Should Lag The FTSE 100 Today

The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) is perking up nicely today as a result of a number of positive earnings reports, and has gained 46 points to 6,617 approaching midday. Further commitments from China to keep second-half growth stable have been met with optimism, though markets are perhaps a bit nervy ahead of the latest from the US Federal Reserve, due later today.

But it’s not all sweetness for everyone. Here are three shares from the various indices that are slipping today:

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Shares in (LSE: MONY) slumped by 33p (15.7%) to 179p today, after sales growth came to a halt with rival firms getting ahead with their advertising. Although revenue for the six months to 30 June was up 10%, to £112.3m, the price comparison firm told us that July revenue was flat compared to a year ago. However,’s newest advertising campaign is yet to be launched, and should appear on our screens in August, so it looks like just a short-term timing issue.

The rest of the first-half figures looked good, with adjusted EBITDA up 29% to £39.9m, and with strong cash generation. The firm is raising its interim dividend by 20% to 2.16p per share, and also paid a special dividend of 12.92p per share on 26 July. also told us that chief financial officer Paul Doughty is to step down no later than 1 June 2014.

WS Atkins

Engineering consultant WS Atkins (LSE: ATK) has had a great couple of months, with its share price up 35% since early June. But it took a small dip today, down 16p (1.4%) to 1,139p after the firm told us that performance from 1 April to date has been “in line with expectations in the first quarter“. The fall may well be just a bit of profit-taking, with the shares looking close to fully valued these days — forecasts put them on a P/E of 14.5 with a dividend yield of 3%, which is pretty much bang on the long-term FTSE averages.

We were told that finances are looking strong, with net cash of around £130m on the books, and that “outlook for the full year remains unchanged and in line with expectations“.


Shares in funeral services firm Dignity have also had a good time, gaining around 70% over the past 12 months. And again, we saw a share price fall after the publication of upbeat news — despite strong first-half figures, the price fell 36p (2.3%) to 1,501p. Revenue for the period was up 14.3% to £133.2m, with underlying pre-tax profit up 20.4% to £33.1m. Basic earnings per share gained 8% to 42.1p, but there will be no interim dividend paid after the company had previously announced a special dividend of 108p per share to be paid in August.

Dignity shares are on a forward P/E of 22 based on full-year forecasts, which might seem a bit of a high rating for such a business — still, unless they cure death any time soon, it’s going to be a reliable one.

Finally, reliable dividends can more than compensate for the day-to-day ups and downs of share prices. So how about a company that’s offering a 5% yield and which could be set for some nice share price appreciation too?

It’s the subject of our BRAND-NEW report, “The Motley Fool’s Top Income Share For 2013“, which you can get completely free of charge — but it will only be available for a limited period, so click here to get your copy today.

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

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