LONDON -- News of measures to tackle an overheating housing sector in China raised fresh fears of a commodities demand slowdown, pushing down shares in the U.K.'s big miners and depressing the FTSE 100 by 0.4% to 6,353 points as of 7:55 a.m. EST.
A falling index is perhaps easier for individual shares to beat. Here are three managing to do that today.
British American Tobacco
Results from British American Tobacco pleased the market last week, sending the share price to a 65-week closing high of 3,508 pence on Friday -- and the price has smashed through that today, climbing another 1.3% to 3,553 pence. The company earned enough to raise its full-year dividend by 7% to 134.9 pence per share.
But though profits were up, actual cigarette volumes fell by 1.6%, and global growth in smoking has been slowing dramatically in recent years as health education reaches developing markets. Have we reached market saturation? It must surely come.
Smiths Group shares have been storming ahead over the past few months, gaining more than 25% since mid-November. That includes a further 9 pence today, beating last Friday's record close and taking the shares to a new 52-week high of 1,275 pence.
The last three years have seen steady growth, and there's more forecast: The City is expecting earnings growth of 3% for the year to July 2013, putting the shares on a price-to-earnings ratio of 13, with a dividend yield of about 3% in the cards.
Property website operator Rightmove climbed to a new closing high on Friday after posting 119.4 million pounds in revenue, with operating profit up 26% to 87.5 million pounds and basic earnings per share up 31% to 65.7 pence -- all records for the company. The full-year dividend was boosted by 18% to 23 pence per share.
After years of double-digit earnings growth, that is set to slow a little for 2013 to 8%, putting the shares on a forward P/E of 25. But in the longer term, any upturn in the housing market would be good news for Rightmove.
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