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Why Rio Tinto plc, Home Retail Group Plc and Halfords Group plc Should Beat The FTSE 100 Today

After a few daily ups and downs, the FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) has gone pretty much nowhere today, with a gain of just 3 points to 6,823 by mid-afternoon. But at least it seems to be holding above 6,800 (although such absolute levels are actually pretty meaningless), with a gain on the week so far of 83 points.

We’re starting to get more year-end trading updates coming through now too. Here are from the FTSE indices revealing impressive numbers:

Rio Tinto

A fourth-quarter operations update gave Rio Tinto shares a boost, sending them up 118p (3.6%) to 3,372p — they’ve almost reached break-even over the past 12 months now.

Rio announced record iron ore shipments of 72.4 million tonnes during the three months, up 8% on the final quarter the previous year, with year-to-date shipments up 5% to 259 million tonnes. Records also tumbled for bauxite and thermal coal production, with copper volumes staging an “impressive recovery“.

Chief executive Sam Walsh said that Rio Tinto is “well positioned to deliver greater value to shareholders“.

Home Retail

A year ago you might not have been expecting Home Retail Group, the owner of Argos and Homebase, to reward shareholders with a 70% share price rise. But that’s what happened, and it includes a 4.9p (2.4%) rise today to 205p on the back of an interim statement for the 18 weeks to 4 January.

Like-for-like sales at the rapidly-recovering Argos rose by 3.8% for the period and by 3.1% over the year-to-date. And we saw even better at Homebase, which recorded a 4.7% sales rise in the 18 weeks and a 5.4% uplift over 44 weeks.

Halfords

Halfords Group has staged a pretty impressive recovery over the past year, with a rise of nearly 50%. Today we saw 33.1p of that, for a 7.2% gain on the day to 494p after the firm released a trading update.

Revenue for the 15-week period to 10 January picked up 6.6%, with year-to-date revenue up 7.3% — and Halfords Autocentres have really started to come online, with revenue growth of 9.2% in the quarter.

On top of that, chief executive Matt Davies told us “Our Retail top-line performance was robust in a period of comparatively mild weather. Cycling was again the standout performer“.

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Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article.