Why SSE PLC, Gulf Keystone Petroleum Limited And WH Smith Plc Should Beat The FTSE 100 Today

A rebound in European stockmarkets yesterday after Spanish and Italian debt sales went well, together with rumours that we’ll see a deal on the US budget deadlock by the end of the week, helped boost the FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) by 46 points this morning to 6,383. That’s still 71 points down on the week, and unless we get a turnaround soon we’ll be seeing three losing weeks in a row.

But what’s beating the FTSE today? Here are three from various indices on the up:


SSE (LSE: SSE) shares are up 22p (1.5%) to 1,476p after an 8.2% hike in its average electricity and gas prices was announced, to come into effect on 15 November. The firm blamed the rise on wholesale costs (up 4%), usage cost of the upgraded networks (up 10%), and government levies (up 13%). For the typical dual-fuel consumer, SSE reckons bills will go up £2 per week.

Today’s rise recovers a little of SSE’s recent share price fall in response to Labour plans to cap energy prices, but the shares are still barely up over the past 12 months now. Dividends, however, are still looking good with a 6% yield expected.

Gulf Keystone Petroleum

A production update from Gulf Keystone Petroleum (LSE: GKP) gave its shares a 7.3p (4.2%) boost to 179p, with commercial production from the Shaikan field having recommenced.

Gulf Keystone, operating in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, confirmed plans to increase the output from its first production facility to 20,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd), and the firm’s second facility should double that by the time it is in operation.

The shares are still down around 20% over the past 12 months, mind, with profits not expected until 2014.

WH Smith

Full-year results sent WH Smith (LSE: SMWH) shares up 59p (7.1%) to 894p, after the company reported a 15% rise in earnings per share and lifted its dividend by 14% to 30.7p per share.

Like-for-like sales fell by 5%, but improving margins helped boost pre-tax profit up 6% to £108m, with chief executive Stephen Clarke telling us that “the group remains highly cash generative“.

There’s also going to be a £50m share buyback, which should take the total cash returned to shareholders during the 2014 financial year to £75m once the final dividend is added.

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