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J.C. Penney Stock Pops in Down Retail Market

Chain’s shares boosted by report of fresh financing and Soros investment.

Shares of J.C. Penney Co. Inc. raced ahead 13.2 percent in late afternoon trading today to $17.25, benefiting from both a report of new financing and the recently revealed backing of George Soros.

CNBC reported that Goldman Sachs had rounded up a $1.75 billion real estate and asset-backed loan for the struggling retailer. Spokeswomen for Penney’s and Goldman Sachs both declined comment.

The retailer is said to have burned through $1 billion in cash in the first quarter and is struggling to right its business after former chief executive officer Ron Johnson’s plan to transform the company flopped.

The company has been working with several advisors to raise money and rejigger operations and the stock was already up over 7 percent on the revelation late Thursday that billionaire investor George Soros bought of 17.4 million shares of the company, giving him a 7.9 percent stake. That was seen as a strong vote of confidence in the retailer’s future.

 

Penney’s was a standout in the retail sector, which was pulled down by weakness in Amazon.com’s stock. The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group was down 1.1 percent, or 8.12 points, to 747.43, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average inched up 0.2 percent, or 35.42 points, to 14,736.22.

Shares of Amazon.com Inc. fell 6.8 percent to $256.02 as investors fretted over the company’s future growth. Also slipping were Columbia Sportswear Co., down 2.8 percent to $59.02; American Apparel Inc., 2.7 percent to $1.83, and VF Corp., which fell 2.3 percent to$174.61 after the company reported lower-than-expected revenues.

In Europe, markets were down across-the-board. The FTSE MIB in Milan fell 0.5 percent to 16,565.25 and Paris CAC 40 dropped 0.8 percent 3,8.10.05, while the DAX in Frankfurt slipped 0.2 percent to 7,814.76 and London’s FTSE 100 dipped 0.3 percent to 6,426.42.

The euro was trading at $1.31 against the dollar, the pound was worth $1.51 and the Swiss franc fetched $1.07.

Those stocks losing the most ground included the Swatch Group, down 2.5 percent to 92.10 Swiss francs; Hermès, 1.8 percent to 253.85 euros; and Asos.com, 1.4 percent to 29.87 pounds.

Kering’s stock dropped 6.7 percent to 166.50 euros after it disappointed analysts with sales in its luxury division climbing just 4.5 percent in the three months ended March 31 — a markedly slower growth than the 21.2 percent increase registered in the fourth quarter.

Going against the downward trend were Safilo, up 3 percent to 12.12 euros, and Marks & Spencer, which increased 0.2 percent to 4.15 pounds.