J.C. Penney Narrows Loss, Beats Expectations

DALLAS (The Dallas Morning News/TNS) -

J.C. Penney reported a better second quarter than analysts had expected, narrowing its loss and posting a 4.1 percent same-store sales increase.

CEO Marvin Ellison said he expects current-quarter sales to grow faster than they did during the second quarter. Chief Financial Officer Ed Record reaffirmed the company’s plan for full-year sales to increase in the range of 4 percent to 5 percent.

No specifics were provided about August sales, but Ellison said that so far, the company is pleased with back-to-school sales. And during the second quarter, shoppers continued that “appointment shopping” trend of spending most during key times such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and the Fourth of July, he said.

Ellison said Penney is still playing catch-up on multiple fronts.

Known for his store-operations background from his time at Home Depot, Ellison said Penney can improve profitability by continuing to work on its online and store integration and increasing the merchandise mix online.

The Plano, Tex.-based retailer posted a net loss of $138 million, or 45 cents a share, in the quarter that ended Aug. 1, compared with a loss of $172 million, or 56 cents a share, a year ago.

Total sales increased 2.7 percent from $2.80 billion a year ago, to $2.89 billion. Same-store sales, or sales that exclude new and closed stores over the past 12 months, were up 4.1 percent and better than results also reported this week from Macy’s, Kohl’s and Dillard’s.

Analysts had expected Penney to report a loss of 48 cents a share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters also forecast a 2.2 percent increase in total sales.

In trading Friday, J.C. Penney shares gained 45 cents, or 5.6 percent, to $8.52.