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Pre-Market Primer: Retailer Results Mixed, Fifty Shades of Grey Props Up Barnes & Noble

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Stock futures are up today after brick and mortar retailers reported earnings.

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MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL

Today, retailers' earnings reports were a mixed bag.

Barnes & Noble (BKS) posted a smaller loss in its fiscal first quarter, which ended on July 28. The retailer's losses narrowed to $0.78 per share from $0.99 per share in the previous quarter. NOOK e-reader digital sales increased 46%, partly thanks to a series of risqué novels.

"During the first quarter, we continued to see improvement in both our rapidly growing NOOK business, which saw digital content sales increase 46% during the quarter, and at our bookstores, which continue to benefit from market consolidation and strong sales of the Fifty Shades series," CEO William Lynch said.

Best Buy (BBY) shares declined again today after reporting worse-than-expected earnings of $0.20 per share. Sales at the gadget retailer declined 3% to $10.55 billion in the quarter that ended on August 3. Best Buy's revenues are consistently bedeviled by consumers' habit of using the retail outlets as a showroom for items that they will later buy for less from Amazon (AMZN) or other online retailers.

Best Buy named Hubert Joly to take over as CEO just yesterday. The stock price fell more than 10% yesterday after that announcement, and another 8.26% in the premarket after the disappointing earnings report. The company has also cancelled share buybacks and suspended earnings guidance for the year.

Urban Outfitters (URBN) shares rose 16.69% in premarket trading after the company reported better-than-expected earnings. The company, which owns Anthropologie, and Free People in addition to its youth-focused eponymous retail outlet, earned $61.3 million, or $0.42 per share, in the three months that ended on July 31, up 8.1% from the year earlier. Revenue rose 11% to $676.3 million, helped by a 22% gain in the direct-to-consumer segment.

Stock futures showed gains this morning after ending the day essentially flat on Monday. Dow (^DJI) futures rose 0.23% to 13,259.00, S&P 500 (SPY) futures climbed 0.24% to 1,418.10, and Nasdaq (^IXIC) futures gained 0.32% to 2,789.00.

In global economic news, Japan's industrial activity grew 0.2% in June on a monthly basis. Industrial production in the country rose by 0.4%. The UK posted an unexpected budget deficit as government spending increased 5.1%. Corporation tax dropped 19.3% and general tax revenue fell 0.8%. The drop in corporate profits is partly due to the closure of the Elgin gas field in the North Sea.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the head of the group of eurozone finance ministers, will head to Athens tomorrow to hear requests from the government for a two-year extension of its fiscal reform program.

Spain, finding a more favorable market, sold more bills than planned at a debt auction today. Spain sold 4.515 billion euros of 12 to 18-month debt. The average yield on the 12-month bill fell to 3.07% from 3.918% at a similar auction in July and the 18-month yield fell to 3.335% from 4.242% at the same auction. 10-year borrowing costs also fell 6.1 basis points to 6.221%.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
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