J.C. Penney Co. Inc. impressed investors late Thursday by posting a second-quarter loss well below both the one expected by analysts and the one recorded in the comparable 2013 quarter.
In the three months ended Aug. 2, the embattled Plano, Tex.-based midtier department store chain cut its net loss to $172 million, or 56 cents a diluted share, from the $586 million, or $2.66, loss recorded in the second quarter of 2013.
Analysts on average expected the more recent quarter’s loss to come in at 93 cents.
Penney’s barely exceeded revenue expectations with sales improving 5.1 percent to $2.8 billion from $2.66 billion a year ago. That was just slightly better than the $2.79 billion in sales expected. Same-store sales increased 6 percent, versus an 11.5 percent decline in comps in last year’s quarter, while online sales through jcp.com rose 16.7 percent to $249 million, the company said.
Best-performing categories included women’s and men’s apparel and accessories, home and fine jewelry.
“Our turnaround initiatives continue to produce improved financial results,” said Myron “Mike” Ullman 3rd, chief executive officer. “In the second quarter, we gained additional market share while significantly increasing gross margin in a highly competitive promotional environment.”
Gross margin in the quarter rose to 36 percent of sales from 29.6 percent during last year’s comparable period.
Investors getting their first look at the results sent shares of Penney up 5.8 percent to $10.30 in after-hours trading. Prior to the end of the day’s New York Stock Exchange session, they added 4.2 percent to close at $9.74.
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