Why Lloyds Banking Group PLC, Hikma Pharmaceuticals Plc and AGA Rangemaster Group Plc Should Beat The FTSE 100 Today

The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) is continuing its downward slide today as panic spreads that the world’s economies might just have to start standing on their own feet before too long — we await words later from the US Federal Reserve, with tapering of stimulus measures expected to be on the agenda. By early afternoon the index of top UK shares was down 31 points on the day at 6,423, and down 77 points on the week so far and looking like putting in its third losing week in a row.

It doesn’t take much to beat the FTSE on a day like today, and here are three from the various indices that are managing it:

Lloyds Banking Group

Lloyds Banking Group shares gained a modest 0.4p (0.6%) to reach 74p after the firm announced the sale of assets worth £504m. What’s being offloaded is German life insurance business Heidelberger Lebensversicherung for approximately £250m, and a portfolio of leveraged loans for £254m — though there could be a further £2m from the loan portfolio in six months if certain conditions are met.

The disposals come as part of Lloyds’ non-core asset reduction, and the cash raised will help boost the bank’s core tier 1 capital ratio.

Hikma Pharmaceuticals

Hikma Pharmaceuticals (LSE: HIK) shares climbed 15p (1.4%) to 1,105p to set a new 52-week record, after the company announced “exceptionally strong first half results“. With revenue up 19.9%, profit attributable to shareholders soared by 82.1% to $73.6m, and adjusted earnings per share gained 156% to 61.6 cents.

The Hikma board responded by boosting the interim dividend from 6 cents to 7 cents per share, and announced the payment of a one-off special dividend of 3 cents per share.

AGA Rangemaster

AGA Rangemaster Group (LSE: AGA) shares also reached a new record today, after interim results sent them up 5.5p (5.3%) to 109p. With chief executive William McGrath telling us that “The tide is turning, the mood amongst our customers is better and there is a buzz about our new products“, the firm reported revenue slightly up at £119.5m with operating profit flat at £1.5m. There’s a pre-tax profit after pension charges expected for the full year, and the firm currently carries net debt of only £6m.

Even with the shares up 50% over the past 12 months, they’re still trading on a forward P/E of a relatively modest 13, falling to under 11 based on 2014 forecasts.

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