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J.C. Penney to Raise $810M in Equity Offering

Updated from 7:44 a.m. EDT

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- J. C. Penney (JCP - Get Report) is looking to raise more than $800 million in equity as the struggling department store chain looks to build up its cash reserves heading into the holiday season.

The Plano, Texas-based retailer said Friday that it would price 84 million shares of common stock at $9.65 a share, well below the closing price of $10.42 on Thursday.

J.C. Penney announced Thursday night that it was planning the public offering, which is expected to close on Oct. 1. The company said it plans to use the net proceeds for "general corporate purposes" and grant its underwriter, Goldman Sachs, a 30-day option to purchase an additional 12.6 million shares.

Shares were tumbling 7.2% to $9.67 in premarket trading.

Reports surfaced this week that the troubled retailer was looking for an equity infusion, possibly as high as $1 billion, to get it through the holiday season.

J.C. Penney shares have had a rocky week, down 20% since last Friday. On Wednesday, Goldman Sachs credit analysts issued a report initiating an "underperform" rating on the company's debt. The analysts said they had concerns about the company's liquidity.

"In our view a combination or weak fundamentals, inventory rebuilding and an underperforming home department will likely challenge J.C. Penney's liquidity levels in [the third quarter]," the Goldman note said. "In order to safeguard against a potentially poor [fourth quarter] holiday season, it is likely that management will look to build a bigger liquidity buffer, as has been suggested by recent press reports. Although we believe this would be a prudent measure for the company, given our expectation for new capital to come in the form of debt (rather than equity), we believe this will be a negative catalyst for creditors."

J.C. Penney has already borrowed more than $3 billion this year to fund its turnaround, including a $2.25 billion term loan from Goldman.

J.C. Penney said on Thursday that it was "pleased with its progress thus far in the company's turnaround efforts and the traction its initiatives are starting to achieve," by seeing "greater predictability in its performance across many areas," according to a statement.
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