Why Hargreaves Lansdown PLC, Ashtead Group plc And Galliford Try plc Should Lag The FTSE 100 Today

The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) is still stuck in its downward trend, dropping 28 points to 6,440 by mid-morning, due as much to the general gloom as to anything specific today. But at least Monday’s 93-point gain has not been completely eroded yet, and the index of top UK shares is still up 27 points on the week so far and might even break out of its four-week losing streak.

On days like these, we have plenty of falling shares. Here are three from the various indices that are slipping:

Hargreaves Lansdown

Full-year results from Hargreaves Lansdown led to a 33p (3.2%) fall in the share price to 998p this morning, which is perhaps surprising considering how good they looked. With revenue up 22% to £292.4m, pre-tax profit climbed 28% to £195.2m with earnings per share (EPS) up 30% to 31.4p. The total dividend was lifted 31% to 29.59p per share.

Total assets under administration also soared, by 38% to £36.4bn, after a further £5.1bn was added to the total over the year. These record-busting figures were pretty much bang on forecasts, with the dividend actually better than expected.

The shares are around 60% over the past 12 months, putting them on a trailing P/E based on these results of over 30, with 2014 forecasts dropping that only a little to around 28 — twice the FTSE average.

Ashtead Group

Ashtead Group (LSE: AHT) shares have more than doubled over the past 12 months, even after a 17.5p (2.5%) fall today after the equipment rental firm released first-quarter results. Revenue is up 24% to £410.5m, with underlying pre-tax profit up 59% to a record £99.5m and EPS up 57% to 12.4p.

Chief executive Geoff Drabble seemed pretty pleased, saying “As a result of this impressive performance, and with a strong balance sheet to support future growth, we now anticipate a full year result ahead of our previous expectations“. For some reason, shareholders did not seem to share his enthusiasm.

Galliford Try

News of two new contracts didn’t do anything to please Galliford Try (LSE: GFRD) shareholders this morning, with the share price dropping 11p (1.1%) to 973p.

The housebuilding and construction firm will build the new Birmingham Dental Hospital in a deal worth £34m, and has been selected by the University of Nottingham to extend and refurbish its engineering and science library for £14m.

Despite today’s drop, Galliford Try shares have been doing well and are up around 50% over the past 12 months.

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

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