Retail shares escaped the worst of another late-day swoon on Wall Street on Thursday but couldn’t get away unscathed after investors pulled back following Standard & Poor’s reduction of General Electric Co.’s outlook to “negative” from “stable.”
After spending most of the day in positive territory, the Standard & Poor’s Retail Index dropped 1.4 percent to 286.61. It fared better than the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which dropped 2.5 percent to 8,604.99, and the S&P 500, down 2.1 percent to 885.28. Both retreated quickly in the late afternoon after S&P lowered its outlooks on both General Electric Co. and its General Electric Capital Corp. (GECC) unit, based principally on concerns about GECC’s effect on GE’s gold-standard “AAA” long-term credit rating.
“GECC will account for about a third of GE’s earnings in 2009 — or less if worse-than-expected credit losses further reduce GECC’s earnings,” wrote S&P analyst Robert Schulz. “Even with its current stand-alone credit profile of ‘A-plus,’ GECC remains one of the world’s most profitable and highly rated financial institutions.”
However, he said, “fundamentals-based earnings and cash flow could decline sufficiently during the next two years to warrant a downgrade.”
GE’s commitment to the financial unit has been demonstrated in recent months by the infusion of $5 billion in equity into GECC and the reduction of GECC’s dividend payout to GE to 10 percent of net earnings from 40 percent.
The status of GECC is critical to the apparel and retail industries because it provides credit to consumers as well as retailers and wholesalers. It provided financing to Goody’s Family Clothing Inc. when the retailer entered bankruptcy in June and again when the firm exited Chapter 11 in October. Goody’s is reportedly running low on cash yet again. GE also extended financing to Steve & Barry’s prior to that company’s bankruptcy and subsequent liquidation and to the troubled Finlay Enterprises to help with the 2007 acquisition of Bailey Banks & Biddle. Lord & Taylor and Gottschalks, among many others, also have credit arrangements with the firm.
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye