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Why The Sage Group plc, WH Smith Plc and J D Wetherspoon plc Should Beat The FTSE 100 Today

The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) is still shying away from beating last May’s high of 6,876 to set a new 14-year record  — yesterday the index of top UK shares closed two points down due to a dip late in the afternoon, and today it’s lost another four points to reach 6,830 by mid-morning. But surely it should only take a few more upbeat trading updates to tip the balance.

Meanwhile, which shares are on the up today? Here are  three from the FTSE indices:

Sage

Sage Group shares have soared nearly 40% since their lows of October, and today got an 18p (4.3%) boost to 431p on the release of a quarterly update which told us that “trading across all regions remains in-line with expectations“.

The UK and Ireland benefited from demand led by changes to legislation, and Sage also saw continuing improvement in the troubled economies of mainland Europe. And in North America, the firm’s strong performance in 2013 is reportedly continuing.

After a track record of regular earnings growth, Sage shares are now valued at a P/E of just under 18 based on September 2014 forecasts, which doesn’t look all that high for a company with growth expectations.

WH Smith

We saw a 30p (3%) rise to 1,046p for WH Smith this morning, in response to “good performance across the group” as reported in a Christmas trading update.

Sales did fall a little, by 4% overall, with like-for-like down by the same margin in the 20 weeks to 18 January. The Travel division performed better, with total sales up 2% and a like-for-like fall of 1%, with High Street sales down 7% and like-for-like down 6%.

But by cutting costs and strengthening margins WH Smith has turned in “another good profit performance“, according to chief executive Stephen Clarke.

J D Wetherspoon

A pre-close update ahead of first-half results gave J D Wetherspoon (LSE: JDW) a lift this morning, up 18.5p (2.3%) to 807.5p.

For the 12 weeks to 19 January, total sales rose by a very nice 10.6% with like-for-like sales up 6.7%. And for the year to date, we saw total sales up 9% with like-for-like up 5.2%.

The firm has opened 18 new pubs during the period, with 11 sites under development.

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Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article.