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Chinese drone maker DJI uncovers massive employee fraud scheme: report


Chinese drone maker DJI Technology Co. has discovered massive fraud by some of its employees, which may trigger a loss of around $150 million, Bloomberg News reported Sunday night. Bloomberg said the fraud was found through an internal investigation and multiple employees who inflated costs for personal gain have been fired. DJI did not say how many employees were involved, but called the scheme "extensive." "We are taking steps to strengthen internal controls," DJI, the world's largest producer of drones, said in a statement, according to Bloomberg. "We continue to investigate the situation and are cooperating fully with law enforcement's investigation."

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COO of Australia's Treasury Wine Estates ousted


Australia-based winemaker and distributor Treasury Wine Estates announced Monday that Chief Operating Officer Robert Foye has left the company. In a statement, the company said Foye left "due to a breach of TWE's internal policies unrelated to the company's trading performance." Deputy COO Tim Ford will replace him, the company said, reporting to CEO Michael Clarke. Treasury Wine Estates has a market cap of around $11 billion, and includes popular global wine brands such as Lindeman's, Beringer, Stag's Leap and Sterling Vineyards.

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Trump says stock-rallying reports of lifting Chinese trade 'sanctions' were premature


President Trump in comments Saturday said stock-rallying reports this week that trade talks with China would include the lifting of tariffs against the world's second-largest economy weren't true. The president referred to those tariffs as "sanctions" on Saturday. "Things are going very well with China and with trade," he said to reporters. "There were some false reports about sanctions being removed. We have taken in tremendous amounts of money into the United States because of the sanctions and we'll see how it goes. And if we make a deal, certainly we wouldn't have sanctions...," he said, expressing general optimism for progress. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter, that the idea of lifting tariffs in part or whole was proposed by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a series of strategy meetings. The report added that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is concerned that any concession could be seen as a sign of weakness, however. Trade issues have been cited as the biggest headwind for stocks rallying in 2019 and the reported tariff removal pushed stock averages to session highs Thursday when the headlines hit.

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BlackRock accidentally exposes confidential data on advisers using popular iShares ETFs: Bloomberg


BlackRock Inc. , the world's largest asset manager, inadvertently posted confidential information about thousands of financial adviser clients on its site, Bloomberg News reported late Friday, citing a glimpse of the released data before it was removed by the investment firm. The data were linked on one of the company's web pages dedicated to its iShares exchange-traded funds. The documents included names and email addresses of financial advisers who buy BlackRock's ETFs on behalf of customers and appeared to show the assets under management each adviser had in the firm's iShares ETFs, Bloomberg reported. The links were dated Dec. 5, 2018, but it's unclear how long they were public. BlackRock oversees assets of almost $6 trillion and is the world's largest issuer of ETFs.

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Trump to make 'major announcement' concerning border, shutdown Saturday


President Donald Trump plans to make a "major announcement" concerning the border with Mexico and the government shutdown on Saturday, according to his Twitter feed late Friday. In a tweet, Trump said he would make the announcement at 3 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday, which will mark the 29th day of the partial government shutdown, the longest on record. Trump is locked in a stalemate with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over funding for his proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

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Snap forces out two executives over inappropriate relationship: report


Snap Inc. forced out two of its executives because one of them had an inappropriate relationship with a contractor, according to a report late Friday. The Snapchat parent fired Francis Racioppi, its director of global security, late last year because he had hired an outside contractor, had a relationship with her, and then pulled the contract after the relationship ended, according to The Wall Street Journal, which cited people familiar with the matter. Snap also asked its head of human resources Jason Halbert to leave the company because of the Racioppi incident and other performance issues, WSJ reported. Snap shares declined 0.7% after hours, following a 7.7% surge to close at $6.18 in Friday's regular session.

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FedEx starts offering buyouts, says costs between $450 million to $575 million


FedEx Corp. began offering buyouts to U.S. employees on Friday, saying in a filing it expects the program to cost between $450 million and $575 million before taxes. Actual costs will depend on acceptance, and most expenses are expected to incur in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2019, the company said. Savings were seen between $225 million and $275 million a year beginning in fiscal 2020, FedEx said. The buyouts are part of a reorganization plan FedEx announced in December alongside its fiscal second-quarter results. That plan also included reductions at FedEx Express' international network capacity and limited hiring. Shares of FedEx rose 0.6% in the extended session Friday after ending the regular trading day up 2.1%.

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Dow logs 300-point gain as stocks string together four-day winning streak


U.S. stocks ended the week strong on Friday, booking a four-day streak of gains, after reports that Washington and Beijing were debating concessions to help secure an eventual resolution to the ongoing U.S.-China trade dispute. The S&P 500 rose 1.3% to end around 2,671. The Dow Jones Industrial Average picked up 342 points, or around 1.4%, to end around 24,713, based on preliminary numbers. The Nasdaq Composite rose 1% to around 7,157. For the week, the Dow was up 3%, the S&P was up 2.9% and the Nasdaq was up 2.7%. Investors pinned hopes on progress in U.S.-China trade talks after a report from Bloomberg News said that Chinese officials would increase imports from the U.S. to close their bilateral trade deficit to zero by 2024. As for corporate news, shares of Netflix Inc. fell around 4% after revenue growth fell short of expectations.

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Mnuchin flew on Milken's private aircraft in December: report


Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin flew from Washington to Los Angeles on Michael Milken's private jet, according to a report Friday in The New York Times. Milken is the Wall Street bond trader who went to prison after pleading guilty to securities fraud charges. A Treasury spokesman said Mnuchin has already reimbursed Milken for the cost of the flight and said he did not need an ethics waiver for the trip. Mnuchin's use of military aircraft for domestic travel caused some controversy early in his term. Last year, Treasury's inspector general said Mnuchin's staff had not provided complete proof about why the Treasury secretary needed to use military aircraft. Mnuchin had asked to use a government jet on his European honeymoon, but later withdrew the request.

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2nd summit between Trump, North Korea's Kim Jong Un to happen in February


President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are expected to hold a second summit "near the end of February," the White House said in a statement Friday. The announcement came after Trump held a meeting with a top North Korean official to discuss the isolated Asian nation's denuclearization. "The president looks forward to meeting with Chairman Kim at a place to be announced at a later date," the White House statement said.

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Disney-backed 'Glass' expected to dominate weekend box office


Walt Disney Co.-backed "Glass", the new film directed by M. Night Shyamalan, is expected to dominate the box office over the long holiday weekend, according to MKM analyst Eric Handler. The film, which brings together characters and narratives from his previous films, is expected to boost the weekend gross to $124 million, up 11% from the year-earlier period, Handler said in a Friday note. "Not only will Glass likely provide a significant boost for the box office but the four-day holiday weekend should benefit as the MLK holiday in 2018 occurred a week earlier," Handler wrote. "Last year's same weekend saw its Top 10 films gross $112mn over the four-day weekend (although Monday was not a holiday and schools and businesses were open) and was led by Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle with $20.7mn." The film, which stars Bruce Willis, James McAvoy, Samuel L. Jackson and Sarah Paulson, is expected to chalk up box revenue of $64 million, he said. "The Upside," starring Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart, is expected to take second place with $14.5 million, according to Handler. "Aquaman" is expected to take third slot with box office of $11 million, which will push it above the $300 million-mark. Disney shares were slightly lower Friday, but have gained 0.5% in the last 12 months, while the S&P 500 has fallen 4.8% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average has fallen 5.3%.

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U.S. oil prices finish higher, lift weekly gain to more than 4%


Oil futures climbed on Friday, with U.S. prices tallying a weekly gain of more than 4% as optimism surrounding progress toward a resolution of the U.S.-China trade dispute eased worries about energy demand. Data from Baker Hughes Friday also revealed a drop in the U.S. oil-rig count for this week, the largest such decline in nearly three years. February West Texas Intermediate oil rose $1.73, or 3.3%, to settle at $53.80 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract, which expires at Tuesday's settlement, ended about 4.3% higher for the week.

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J. Crew Chairman Mickey Drexler retiring


J. Crew Group Inc. announced Friday that its chairman, Millard "Mickey" Drexler," will retire to devote his time to developing Drexler Ventures LLC and his other interests. Chad Leat, a J. Crew director since Jan. 2017 and a retired vice chairman of global banking at Citigroup Inc. , will succeed Drexler as chairman, effective immediately. Drexler also previously served as chief executive of J. Crew, joining the company in that role in 2003, and founded Madewell. J. Crew has struggled to regain its iconic status after the departure of Jenna Lyons, the brand's superstar creative director. The brand recently replaced its chief executive with an "office of the CEO" and announced plans to discontinue its budget Mercantile and Nevereven lines, throwing the brand's partnership with Amazon.com Inc. into jeopardy. The SPDR S&P Retail ETF has fallen 5.5% in the past year, the Amplify Online Retail ETF has gained 3.6% for the period, and the S&P 500 index has slipped 4.6%.

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Gold futures suffer first weekly decline since mid-December


Gold futures fell on Friday, suffering from their first weekly decline since mid-December as optimism surrounding the U.S.-China trade dispute contributed to gains in the U.S. stock market and strength in the dollar. February gold settled at $1,282.60 an ounce, down $9.70, or 0.8% for the session. That was the lowest finish for a most-active contract so far this year, with prices down about 0.5% for the week, according to FactSet data.

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The Dow is now within striking distance of its 200-day moving average


A powerful four-day rally on Friday has helped to drive U.S. stock benchmarks to multiweek highs, but the degree by which sentiment has improved since a rough 2018 is perhaps best exemplified by the moves in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The Dow on Friday afternoon was up more than 320 points at 24,694, a gain of 1.3%, climbing nearly 700 points in the past several days. That move has placed the blue-chip gauge within reach of its 200-day long-term average at 24,968.10, according to FactSet data. That's a surprising burst higher for the Dow which only Thursday closed above its 50-day moving average, then at 24,346, for the first time since Dec. 3. Moving averages are used by market technicians to help gauge bullish and bearish momentum in an asset over the long and short term. Trading above its 200-day would help to signal that the Dow, and the rest of the stock market, is re-establishing some semblance of structure after all three indexes, including the S&P 500 index and the Nasdaq Composite Index ended 2018 with their worst annual declines since 2008. Those declines also saw the Dow form a death cross, where the 50-day - a short-term trend tracker - crosses below the 200-day, used to determine a long-term trend in an asset, formed on Dec. 18. The recent updraft has been attributed to a series of stories indicating that a lasting problem for the stock market and the global economy--a trade spat between China and the U.S.--may be near a resolution.

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Johnsonville recalls pork patties because they may contain bits of rubber


Johnsonville announced a voluntary recall of its Cheddar Cheese & Bacon Grillers on Friday because they may contain black rubber bits. The recall comes after three complaints, and applies to the 24-ounce package with the following "Best Flavor By" dates and EST numbers: July 24, 2019 and an EST 34225; Aug. 13, 2019 and an EST 34225; and Aug. 14, 2019 and an EST 34225. The product was shipped to 31 states. Purdue has also issued a recall of chicken nuggets that may be contaminated with wood. The Invesco Dynamic Food & Beverage ETF has lost 7.1% over the last year while the S&P 500 index is down 4.6% for the period.

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Baker Hughes data show U.S. oil-rig count down 21 for the week


Baker Hughes on Friday reported that the number of active U.S. rigs drilling for oil dropped by 21 to 852 this week. That marked a third straight weekly decline. The total active U.S. rig count also declined by 25 to 1,050, according to Baker Hughes. February West Texas Intermediate crude was up $1.64, or 3.2%, at $53.71 a barrel from Thursday's finish. It was trading at $53.59 before the rig data.

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Dow jumps 1.5% amid report that China open to extending $1 trillion-a-year olive branch on trade


U.S. stock indexes Friday midday clambered higher after a report from Bloomberg said Chinese officials were open to eliminating an imbalance with the U.S. that has been a source of trade tension between the two largest economies in the world and a major headwind for stocks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 368 points, or 1.5% at 24,734, the S&P 500 index advanced 1.5% at 2,674, while the Nasdaq Composite Index rose 1.4% at 7,181. Bloomberg on Friday, citing sources familiar with talks, reported that China has offered to go on "a six-year buying spree to ramp up imports from the U.S., in a move that would reconfigure the relationship between the world's two largest economies." China would increase purchases of U.S. imports over six years to reach more than $1 trillion per year, according to the report, which comes a day after the Wall Street Journal reported that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had debated eliminating China tariffs as a tactic toward advancing talks on their protracted trade dispute and easing tensions. However, a Treasury spokesman has walked back that story, saying that discussions continue and no decisions have been made. Trade issues have been the greatest source of friction for stock markets here and abroad, market participants have said.

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All 30 Dow stocks gain ground, led by Home Depot and Caterpillar


The Dow Jones Industrial Average shot up 329 points, or 1.4%, in midday trade Friday, will all 30 components contributing to gains. The blue-chip barometer, on track for the highest close since in six weeks, has now run up 13% since it closed at a 14-month low on Dec. 24. Of the biggest gainers, shares of Home Depot Inc. rallied 2.9%, Caterpillar Inc. climbed 2.8% and DowDuPont Inc. tacked on 2.3%. The most-active Dow component was Apple Inc.'s stock , which rose 0.8%.

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Wall Street's 'fear index' is on track for its biggest one-month plunge in nearly 3 years


The Cboe Volatility index has tumbled in recent trade and is on pace for its steepest monthly slide since March of 2016, according to FactSet data. Wall Street's so-called "fear index," uses S&P 500 options to calculate expectations for volatility over the coming 30 days, and tends to trade inversely to stocks. Equity benchmarks, following a bruising 2018, have experienced a mutltiday stock-market rally that has been partly underpinned by hope of a resolution between China and the U.S. on trade relations. That, in turn, has driven the the volatility index sharply lower. Investors tend to use the gauge partly to hedge against declines in the market, with rising prices equating to a higher cost of such coverage. Most recently, the index was at 17.40 and has declined about 31.55% thus far in January (markets are closed on Jan. 21 in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.). That level of decline would represent the most severe for the gauge since it fell 32.12% in March of 2016. The index's drop in 2016 had also been fueled by relief following concerns about the health of the Chinese economy, which continues to be a source of concern for market participants after data out of Beijing has shown clear signs of slowing down. Still, market participants have waxed optimistic that tensions between Beijing and Washington, if resolved, would help to stem any economic contraction in global markets. The VIX's historical average stands at around 19 or 20. The S&P 500 and the Russell 2000 index have both enjoyed the best start to a year since 1987. And all of the main stock indexes, including the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq Composite Index were looking at solid weekly and monthly gains.

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China has offered to ramp up U.S. import purchases to $1 trillion per year: report


China has offered to ramp up its purchases of U.S. imports over six years to reach more than $1 trillion per year, Bloomberg News reported, citing officials familiar with the negotiations. The move would end the U.S. trade gap with China by 2024, the report said.

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University of Michigan consumer sentiment plunges in January


Consumer sentiment plunged in January to the lowest level since President Trump was elected, according to the University of Michigan index released Friday. The index fell to 90.7 in January from 98.3, with the expectations index dropping especially sharply. Economists polled by MarketWatch forecast a 97.5 reading. "The loss was due to a host of issues including the partial government shutdown, the impact of tariffs, instabilities in financial markets, the global slowdown, and the lack of clarity about monetary policies," said Richard Curtin, chief economist for the survey.

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Dow jumps 160 points as stock market set to end week with solid gains on China-trade optimism


U.S. stocks rose on Friday, putting benchmarks on pace for a fourth straight win, as investors hung on to optimism over a report that Washington might ease tariffs on Chinese goods. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 156 points, or 0.6%, at 24,523, the S&P 500 index added 0.5% at 2,649, and the Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 0.6% at 7,130. The Wall Street Journal on Thursday reported that U.S. officials were debating a possible ease in tariffs on Chinese imports, to give Beijing incentive to make deeper concessions over the trade dispute. A Treasury spokesman immediately walked back the report, telling the newspaper that any bargaining positions remained "at the discussion stage." Still optimism in the markets held. For the week, as of Thursday's close, the Dow and S&P 500 are each up 1.5% and the Nasdaq Composite is looking at a gain of 1.6%. In corporate news, shares of Tesla were in focus after the automaker said it was cutting 7% of its workforce to cut costs, while investors also watched shares of Eli Lilly & Co. sank after it reported disappointing results from a medical trial. Meanwhile, Netflix shares were drawing attention after the media-streaming giant reported weaker-than-expected revenue late-Thursday. In economic reports, industrial production finished the year on a strong note, rising 0.3% in December after a revised 0.4% gain in November, according to data released by the Federal Reserve on Friday.

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U.S. industrial output up 0.3% in December, manufacturing surges


Industrial production finished the year on a strong note, rising 0.3% in December after a revised 0.4% gain in November, according to data released by the Federal Reserve on Friday. The gain was in line with estimates of economists polled by MarketWatch. In the fourth quarter, industrial output rose at a 3.8% annual rate, down from 4.7% rate in the third quarter. Manufacturing output alone rose 1.1% in December, the biggest gain in 10 months. The increase was led by a 4.7% increase in the output of motor vehicles and parts but there were gains across the board. Capacity utilization rose to 78.7% in December, the highest level in almost four years.

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Nautilus stock plummets after profit and revenue outlook is well-below expectations


Shares Nautilus Inc. plummeted 42% toward a more-than 5-year low in premarket trade Friday, after the fitness company provided a fourth-quarter outlook that was well below expectations and said it was implementing an "aggressive" cost-cutting program. The company said late Thursday it expected earnings per share from continuing operations of 4 cents to 5 cents a share, while the FactSet EPS consensus as of Dec. 31 was 56 cents. Revenue is now expected to be $114 million to $116 million, below the year-end FactSet consensus of $149.6 million. Nautilus said it was expecting "significantly stronger" direct segment sales, but expected fourth-quarter direct segment sales of $50 million is down from $71.6 million a year ago. The company said it's cost-cutting plan aims to rescale operations to be more profitable on a lower sales base. The stock was on track to open at the lowest price seen during regular session hours since November 2013. It has lost 8.8% over the past three months through Thursday, while the S&P 500 has slipped 4.8%.

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Starbucks' new Mexican location is operated exclusively by older staffers


Starbucks Corp. announced Friday that it has opened a new cafe in Jalisco, Mexico, and it's operated exclusively by staffers between the ages of 52 and 66. This is the second Starbucks in Mexico to hire an older staff; the first launched last year in Mexico City. The Jalisco location will have 14 workers. Starbucks, which partnered with the National Institute for Elderly People five years ago, aims to hire 120 senior workers by 2019. Diana González, head of HR at Starbucks Mexico, characterizes the move as part of the company's efforts towards diversity and inclusion. Starbucks shares have gained 5.2% over the past year while the S&P 500 index has lost 5.8% for the period.

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Netflix's stock drop after results despite upbeat analyst calls


Although Netflix Inc. investors may not be completely satisfied with the streaming video service giant's fourth-quarter results, especially considering the massive run up in its stock price that past few weeks, but Wall Street analysts were nearly unanimously upbeat. The stock fell 2.5% in premarket trade Friday, as Netflix beat profit and net subscriber additions expectations but missed on revenue. Of the analysts surveyed by FactSet, 14 raised their stock price target while 1 lowered their target. That lifted the average analyst price target to $402.61, which is 14% above Thursday's closing price, from $391.31 just before the results. The most bullish analyst is Justin Patterson at Raymond James, who reiterated his strong buy rating and raised his price target to $470 from $450, saying Netflix's global distribution advantage is becoming increasingly clear. Even the most bearish analyst, Wedbush's Michael Pachter, reiterated his underperform rating, citing troubling cash burn and concerns over subscriber growth deceleration, but raised his price target to $165 from $150. Netflix's stock had rocketed 51% from Dec. 24 through Thursday, while the S&P 500 rallied 12% over the same time.

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GameStop's stock jumps after upbeat holiday sales report


Shares of GameStop Corp. jumped 1.6% in premarket trade Friday, after the video game seller reported an increase in holiday-period same-store sales and affirmed its full-year profit outlook. Net sales for the nine-weeks ended Jan. 5 fell 5% from the same period a year ago. The FactSet sales consensus for the fiscal fourth quarter, which ends January, of $3.24 billion implies a 7.5% decline. Same-store sales for the period rose 1.5%, as a 3.6% increase in the U.S. offset a 3.1% decline internationally. The FactSet consensus for fourth-quarter same-store sales is a decline of 6.4%. The company affirmed its fiscal 2018 outlook for adjusted earnings per share of $2.55 to $2.75, which surrounds the FactSet consensus of $2.66. The stock has rallied 4.7% over the past three months through Thursday, while the S&P 500 has lost 4.8%.

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Schlumberger shares rise premarket after revenue tops estimates


Schlumberger Ltd. shares rose 2% in premarket trade Friday, after the oil giant posted stronger-than-expected revenue for the fourth quarter. The company said it had net income of $538 million, or 39 cents a share, in the quarter, after a loss of $2.26 billion, or $1.63 a share, in the year-earlier period. Adjusted per-share earnings came to 36 cents, matching the FactSet consensus. Revenue fell to $8.180 billion from $8.504 billion, ahead of the FactSet consensus of $8.044 billion. The dramatic fall in oil prices in the quarter was driven by U.S. shale production surprising to the upside, combined with geopolitical tensions. "Looking forward to 2019, we expect a more positive supply- and demand-balance sentiment to lead to a gradual recovery in the price of oil over the course of the year, as the OPEC and Russia cuts take full effect; the effect of lower activity in North America land in the second half of 2018 impacts production growth; the dispensations from the Iran export sanctions expire and are not renewed; and as the US and China continue to work toward a solution to their ongoing trade dispute," Chief Executive Paal Kibsgaard said in a statement. Shares have fallen 45.8% in the last 12 months, while the S&P 500 has fallen 5.8%.

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Vans-parent VF's stock soars after profit and sales beat, raised outlook


Shares of VF Corp. shot up 8.5% toward a 6-week high in premarket trade Friday, after the apparel and accessories company, which brands include Vans, The North Face and Wrangler, reported better-than-expected fiscal third-quarter profit and sales. For the quarter ended December, VF swung to net income of $463.5 million, or $1.16 a share, from a loss of $90.3 million, or 23 cents a share, in the same period a year ago. Excluding non-recurring items, adjusted earnings per share came to $1.31, well above the FactSet consensus of $1.10. Revenue rose 8% to $3.94 billion, above the FactSet consensus of $3.87 billion. Gross margin improved to 51.9% from 51.5%. For fiscal 2019, the company raised its revenue guidance to "at least $13.8 billion" from "at least $13.7 billion," as raised outlooks for its outdoor, active and work segments offset a lower outlook for jeans. The company raised its adjusted EPS outlook to $3.73 from $3.65. The stock has dropped 16% over the past three months through Thursday, while the S&P 500 has lost 4.8%.

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