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Why CRH PLC, Premier Farnell plc and Oxford Instruments plc Should Beat The FTSE 100 Today

After picking up 20 points yesterday to finish on 6,728, the FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) shed 15 points to 6,713 this morning as the mining sector is having one of the down days of its regular up-and-down dance. But London’s top index is still five points up on the week so far. Could it be that the markets are finally recognizing that a strengthening US economy is actually a good thing, even if it does bring to an end those regular Federal Reserve handouts?

We have some impressive rises across the FTSE indices today. Here are three on the way up:

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CRH

A third quarter update did the trick for CRH (LSE: CRH), boosting its shares by 49p (3.1%) to 1,608p. The construction materials group reported a 3% rise in like-for-like sales for the period, with EBITDA also 3% ahead despite adverse currency movements. EBITDA for the second half should still be in line with 2012.

The quarter represented something of a recovery after first-half results released in August had shown a 6% decline in like-for-like sales, adversely affected by the bad weather. But with CRH expecting to achieve cost savings of of €195m for the full year, we should be on for a return to earnings growth in 2014.

Investors certainly seem optimistic, having pushed the share price up more than 40% over the past 12 months.

Premier Farnell

Turning to the FTSE 250, Premier Farnell (LSE: PFL) saw its shares jump 14.5p (6.4%) to 242p after the technology services firm released an upbeat Q3 statement. Group sales for the quarter grew 3.3%, with the Asia Pacific region leading the way with a 10.5% year-on-year rise and European sales coming in 4.1% ahead. Total sales for the nine-months were up 1.9%.

Chief executive Laurence Bain said the firm anticipates “that our full year operating margin will be broadly similar to that achieved in the first half“, though that will not yet be within the company’s targeted range.

Oxford Instruments

We saw a much bigger rise for Oxford Instruments (LSE: OXIG) this morning, as the shares soared 162p (13.2%) to 1,389p on news the firm has made a takeover approach for AIM-listed Andor Technology (LSE: AND). The 500p-per-share bid gave Andor shares a pretty nice boost too, and they’re up 96p (24%) to 496p by late morning. The two companies have been in discussion since Oxford Instruments made a tentative 420p bid in July, and the Andor board is now considering the latest offer.

Oxford Instruments also released first-half results today, which showed a 2.6% fall in revenue to £166.3m and an 8.4% drop in adjusted pre-tax profit, with adjusted earnings per share down 13% to 28.6p. But at least the interim dividend was lifted 10.2% to 3.36p per share.

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

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