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Target cuts Q4'19 sales outlook; MGM/Blackstone JV to buy Las Vegas casinos

TOP NEWS

* Target Corp.'s shares tumbled 7.9% in premarket trading after the general merchandise retailer lowered its guidance for fourth-quarter sales growth due to weakness over the holiday season, particularly in electronics, toys and homewares. Target said comparable sales growth in the November/December period was 1.4%, below its expectations. It revised its projection for fourth-quarter sales growth to 1.4% from 3% to 4% but maintained its EPS estimates due to strength in higher-margin categories. Target also announced the retirement of its chief stores officer, Janna Potts.

* MGM Growth Properties LLC agreed to form a joint venture with Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust Inc. to acquire the real estate assets of the MGM Grand-Las Vegas and Mandalay Bay casinos in Las Vegas for $4.6 billion. The joint venture, 50.1% of which will be owned by MGM Growth, will acquire the real estate assets of MGM Grand from MGM Resorts International in a transaction valued at approximately $2.5 billion, and the real estate assets of Mandalay Bay from MGM Growth. MGM Resorts will receive net cash proceeds of approximately $2.4 billion from the deal and about $85 million in MGM Growth operating partnership units.

TEXTILES, APPAREL AND LUXURY GOODS

* Basic apparel company Hanesbrands Inc. named chief accounting officer and controller M. Scott Lewis as interim CFO, effective Jan. 9. The company said it is considering both internal and external candidates for its next CFO.

* H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB teamed up with payment solutions provider Klarna to launch a pay-later service to members of the Swedish company's loyalty program in the U.S. Pay Later lets customers choose how and when they want to pay for purchases, both in-store and online, using the H&M app.

* Chinese footwear-maker Anta Sports Products Ltd. is looking to issue €1 billion in convertible bonds with zero coupon guaranteed. ANTA Sports plans to use the proceeds from the offering to refinance its existing debt, for working capital and for other general corporate purposes.

* China's Shandong Ruyi Woolen Garment Group Co. Ltd. has been blacklisted by the International Cotton Association, or ICA, from trading cotton supplies after failing to pay compensation of about $1 million in an arbitration case, the Financial Times reported, citing a document from the Liverpool-based trade association. The Chinese textile manufacturer reportedly was supposed to supply Bangladeshi company Valleycot Marketing 7,000 tonnes of Australian cotton, but Shandong Ruyi only delivered a portion of the order. "Shandong Ruyi has expressed their inability to pay up even a fraction of the award due to their financial woes," Valleycot CEO Khondoker Shahriar told the newspaper. Shandong Ruyi did not respond to a request for comment, the report added.

* Apparel company Express Inc. laid off 10% of its staff at its headquarters Columbus, Ohio, and at its New York design studio, Women's Wear Daily reported, citing a company confirmation. Express, which did not disclose the number of displaced workers, reportedly said the layoffs are part of the "restructuring of its corporate workforce to align its organization with the company's go-forward strategy."

* British clothing company Quiz PLC said revenue during the seven weeks to Jan. 4 fell 9.3% year over year. Online sales dropped 14.8%, while revenue from Quiz's stand-alone stores and concessions in the U.K. went down 7%.

* Frasers Group PLC founder and CEO Mike Ashley wrote U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, urging him for business rates reform, the Financial Times reported. Ashley reportedly wrote in December 2019 that the current system for transitional relief, which is supposed to reduce how much business rates rise, leads to stores "paying the incorrect amount of rates." He noted that stores with rising business rates are the ones not paying as much as they should, while those that are transitioning downward and need support are paying "far too much."

MULTILINE RETAIL

* Thailand's Central Retail Corp. is close to securing cornerstone investors for its IPO worth up to $2.7 billion, making it the largest listing in the country, Reuters reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Sources reportedly said the IPO will likely be priced in the lower half of its indicative price range of 40 Thai baht to 48 baht. Its parent, The Central Group, did not immediately respond to requests for comment, the report said.

E-COMMERCE

* Amazon.com Inc. will invest about $1 billion to digitize small and medium-sized businesses in India, CNBC TV18 reported, citing CEO Jeff Bezos' statement during an event in Delhi. Bezos reportedly also said Amazon will export $10 billion worth of India-made products globally by 2025.

* Amazon said it is reinstating FedEx Corp.'s Ground delivery network for Prime shipments from third-party sellers as the FedEx service is "consistently" meeting the company's on-time delivery requirements. The e-commerce retailer notified its sellers by email that FedEx's Ground and Home services will be available for Prime shipments from 2 p.m. PT on Jan. 14, according to the message viewed by S&P Global Market Intelligence. "This is good news for our mutual customers who have come to rely on the FedEx Ground offering," FedEx said in a statement to Market Intelligence.

* Amazon has denied lending money to Roofoods Ltd., which operates as Deliveroo, amid an ongoing probe into the e-commerce company's $575 million investment in the U.K.-based food delivery startup, Bloomberg News reported, citing a statement from the company. The statement was in response to an earlier publication of the Bloomberg report, which said Amazon offered Deliveroo a loan to prevent the startup from running low on capital. Deliveroo declined to comment, the news outlet said.

* Amazon-owned Audible is close to settling a lawsuit filed by publishers who claimed that its upcoming mobile app feature that automatically converts audiobook narrations into text would violate copyrights, Bloomberg News reported, citing a court filing. The parties have resolved their disputes and settlement documents will be submitted to the court soon, a lawyer for the audiobook company said in the filing, without disclosing terms of the settlement. Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment, the report said.

* Amazon.com's Australian unit submitted an application to trademark the term "Amazon Pharmacy," covering 10 types of various goods and services, including medical apparatus and instruments, online retail pharmacy services and packaging and storage of goods. The filing is awaiting examination, and its expected report issue is July 9.

FOOD AND STAPLES RETAILING

* Multinational retail group Auchan will slash 517 jobs in France as part of its 2022 transformation plan. Under the reorganization, the company will eliminate 677 positions, 652 of which are occupied, and will create 135 new roles. The move involves the voluntary departure of staff at its head offices and support services in the country.

* PJSC Magnit reported that revenue for the holiday period between Dec. 17, 2019, and Dec. 31, 2019, increased 8.5% year over year, with a 0.6% growth in like-for-like sales. The Russian food retailer said the period between Dec. 30, 2019, and Dec. 31, 2019, accounted for 21% of its holiday sales.

HOUSEHOLD DURABLES AND SPECIALTY RETAIL

* DFS Furniture PLC reported that gross sales for the 26 weeks to Dec. 29, 2019, declined 6% year over year due to a "challenging market environment" that affected footfall. The company expects full-year profit before tax and brand amortization to be broadly in line with expectations of £50 million to £53.6 million.

LEISURE PRODUCTS AND FACILITIES

* California-based Xponential Fitness LLC has tapped banks, including Bank of America Corp., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Jefferies Financial Group Inc., as advisers for its IPO, Bloomberg News reported, citing people familiar with the matter. One of the sources reportedly said the owner of boutique fitness brands like Club Pilates and CycleBar aims to raise about $300 million in the IPO at a valuation of about $1 billion. "It is our policy to refrain from commenting on rumors or speculation," Xponential Fitness reportedly said, while Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Jefferies declined to comment.

* Games Workshop Group PLC's basic EPS for the six months to Dec. 1, 2019, came in at £1.46, compared to £1.01 in the year-ago period, while revenue increased year over year to £148.4 million, or £145.6 million at constant currency, from £125.2 million. The company declared a dividend of £1 per share, versus 65 pence in the year-ago period.

The day ahead

Early morning futures indicators pointed to a lower opening for the U.S. market.

In Asia, the Hang Seng declined 0.39% to 28,773.59, and the Nikkei 225 fell 0.45% to 23,916.58.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 gained 0.10% to 7,629.13, and the Euronext 100 was essentially flat at 1,157.62.

On the macro front

The U.S. PPI-FD, the U.S. Empire State manufacturing survey, the Atlanta Fed business inflation expectations report, the U.S. EIA petroleum status report and the U.S. beige book are due out today.

Click here to read about today's financial markets, setting out the factors driving stocks, bonds and currencies around the world ahead of the New York open.

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