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Why Burberry Group plc, Prudential plc and WS Atkins PLC Should Beat The FTSE 100 Today

By the time the markets closed yesterday the FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) had recorded its biggest daily fall in three months, dropping 97 points (1.4%) to 6,630, on yet another “Oh, economic stimulus won’t last forever” shock. But after the US Federal Reserve hinted that its bond-buying support is going to carry on for a bit longer yet, we saw a partial rebound this morning of 56 points to 6,686.

There was some actual concrete news around too, and it gave a few of our top shares a boost. Here are three from the indices responding well:

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Burberry Group

First-half results gave Burberry Group (LSE: BRBY) shares a 33p (2.3%) lift to 1,495p, after revenue climbed 17% to £1,103m. Adjusted pre-tax profit only rose a little, from £173m to £174m, but that was better than the company had expected.

Net cash dropped a bit, from £237m to £208m, but there’s enough of the stuff around to raise the interim dividend 10% to 8.8p per share. Burberry shares had been performing strongly since the summer before a bit of a mini-slump, but after today’s rise they’re still up around 24% over the past 12 months.

Prudential

Prudential (LSE: PRU) (NYSE: PUK.US) shares have had a great year, gaining 45% over 12 months. And today the price got a further 27p (2.2%) lift to 1,270p after a third-quarter update told us that “Asian growth continues to drive strong Group performance” with new business in the region up 20% year-to-date. And even in the UK where regulatory changes are costing the industry, things have been “resilient”.

The slowly-gathering economic recovery is improving things in all of the Pru’s markets, with Asian business expected to grow “significantly faster” than in the developed world. Chief executive Tidjane Thiam said that “We remain on track to achieve our 2013 ‘Growth and Cash’ objectives“.

WS Atkins

Engineering consultant WS Atkins (LSE: ATK) released an upbeat first-half report this morning, telling us of a “full year outlook slightly ahead of expectations“.

With revenue up 12.2% to £915.4m, underlying pre-tax profit rose 8.2% to £44.7m and underlying earnings per share (EPS) gained 9.1% to 35.9p. The interim dividend was lifted 5% to 10.5p per share.

Atkins shares have almost doubled in price over the past 12 months, and though a small fall in EPS is forecast this year, we still have a forward P/E of only a little above the FTSE average at 15.5 — and a predicted return to earnings growth in 2015 would drop that to 14.4.

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> Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool has recommended shares in Burberry.