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Why NEXT plc, Inmarsat Plc and Marks and Spencer Group Plc Should Beat The FTSE 100 Today

The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) opened its new year account with a 31-point fall yesterday, to end the day at 6,718. And so far today nothing much has changed, with the UK’s top index back up just seven points to 6,725, with not a lot of company news around and trading volumes thin.

But there are at least a few individual shares that are moving. Here are three off to a good start:

NEXT

NEXT (LSE: NXT) gave us a pleasant surprise this morning, telling us that fourth-quarter sales “have been significantly ahead of our expectations”. Total sales for the period rose by 11.9% to give us a year-to-date rise of 5%, which is ahead of the firm’s previous guidance. And highlighting the importance of multi-channel retailing these days, NEXT Directory sales picked up 21% on the quarter and 12% for the year so far.

In other news, the fashion retailer announced a special dividend of 50p per share, to be paid on 3 February, with an ex-dividend date of 15 January.

The shares responded with a rise of 490p (8.9%) to 6,020p.

Inmarsat

Shares in Inmarsat (LSE: ISAT) got a modest boost this morning, of 6p (0.8%) to 757p, after the satellite communications firm told us it has completed the acquisition of Globe Wireless.

Globe, which Inmarsat has bought for $45m, provides maritime communications services to a customer base of more than 6,000 ships, and brought in revenue of $91m in its last full year.

Inmarsat shares are now up around 23% over the past 12 months, although in the short term we have a couple of years of falling earnings forecast.

Marks and Spencer

Marks and Spencer Group (LSE: MKS) (NASDAQOTH: MAKSY.US) has been on a slide of late, falling 16% from a November high of 515p to close on 427p yesterday. But today the high street fixture saw its price pick up 16p (3.6%) to reach 443p. There was no news, but the rise comes ahead of a third-quarter update due on 9 January, which should bring us details of Christmas trading.

The year to March 2014 is expected to be flat, earnings-wise, but analysts have a 12% recovery in EPS forecast for the following year, putting the shares on a March 2015 P/E of under 12. With dividends around 4%, M&S must be now be worth a closer look.

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Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article.