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Why Compass Group plc, United Utilities Group PLC and Galliford Try plc Should Beat The FTSE 100 Today

The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) finished yesterday on a downer, ending the day with a 58-point fall to 6,636. So far today it has recovered a little, up 14 points to 6,650, but it will have to do better than that by Friday if the index of the UK’s biggest shares is to avoid a fourth successive losing week.

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Compass Group (LSE: CPG) shares are up 23.5p (2.5%) to 950p by mid-morning, taking the price up nearly 30% over the past 12 months, after the catering group reported a 9.2% rise in underlying pre-tax profit for the full year to £1,188m. That came after revenue rose by 4.3% to £17.6bn.

Underlying earnings per share climbed by 12.5% to 47.7p, and the firm lifted its dividend by 12.7% to 24p per share for a modest yield of 2.5% on the current share price.

Looking ahead, chief executive Richard Cousins said “I remain positive about the exciting structural growth opportunities in all of our markets and the potential for further progress“.

United Utilities

It was an interim report that did the trick for United Utilities Group (LSE: UU), sending its shares up 10.2p (1.5%) to 667p.

Revenue for the six months to 30 September gained 3.7% to £853.3m, with underlying operating profit up 9% to £343.2m. The interim dividend was raised 5% to 12.01p — a similar full-year rise would provide a yield of 5.4%, which is one of the best on the market.

Chief executive Steve Mogford told us that “We are discounting prices next year so that customers do not pay the full allowed price increase, meaning that, on average, bills will go up by no more than inflation“.

Galliford Try

Galliford Try (LSE: GFRD) shares have done well this year, soaring by more than 60% over the past 12 months. And the climb was assisted by an early 18p (1.6%) rise to 1,119p today after the construction group announced a new contract.

Morrison Construction, one of Galliford Try’s subsidiaries, has been appointed preferred contractor for two new school developments in Scotland. The deal, which will see Morrison Construction build the new Kelso High School, and the Newbattle Community High School in Midlothian, is worth £48m and should lead to completion by 2016.

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

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