Moody’s Investors Service sharply cut its credit rating on J.C. Penney Co. Inc. Tuesday.
The debt watchdog downgraded the retailer’s corporate family credit rating three notches to “B3” from “Ba3.” The new rating is described as “subject to high credit risk” under Moody’s scale. The outlook is negative.
The other major credit rating agencies, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings, each cut Penney’s rating by two notches earlier this month. Lower credit ratings could make it more expensive for the company to borrow money but do not have an immediate operational impact on the retailer.
Analysts have grown worried that Penney’s will have to dip into its credit facility to pay for chief executive officer Ron Johnson’s reinvention of the firm. Johnson is remaking what was a highly promotional department store into a specialty department store with branded shops and a different pricing model.
Moody’s expected comparable-store sales declines at Penney’s to improve modestly in the third quarter, but they worsened instead, falling 26.1 percent versus the 21.7 percent decline in the second quarter. The rating agency, however, noted that the company does not have debt coming due soon and also has “unencumbered assets” that give it financial leeway.
The weakness at the company and its race against time to remake its stores has gotten the rumor mill churning.
Shares of Penney’s gained 2.9 percent to $17.24 Tuesday as traders whispered about the possibility of a leveraged buyout of the firm.
One financial source said nothing appeared to be in the works but that a buyout down the line was possible.
“All the initiatives that J.C. Penney is trying are the kind of stuff that private companies do better than public companies,” the source said. “I’d have to believe that it’s somebody’s Plan B or C.”
Activist investor and Penney’s board member William Ackman controls 25.2 percent of the company’s stock and helped install Johnson in the corner office.
Spokeswomen at Penney’s and Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management said their companies do not comment on market rumors.
My character, Dinah Madani, is just the coolest, [most] badass woman imaginable," says @amberroserevah. The actress stars in @marvel's newest series on @netflix, @thepunisher. To prepare for her role, Revah sat down with Homeland agents to get a real sense of with Dinah's day-to-day life is really like. Read our full interview on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
A scene from the 91st annual @macys Thanksgiving Day Parade. The parade, which boasts 50 million TV viewers and 3.5 million on-site spectators, is considered one of the largest and most watched parades in the world. (📷: Jason Szenes/EPA-REX)
The circus came to @bloomingdales 59th Street on Tuesday night and lit up Lexington Avenue with acrobatic dancers, death-defying knife throwing, sword swallowing and aerial acts with no net. The 45 minutes of theatrics built up to unveiling the holiday windows depicting @swarovski crystal-encrusted circus pieces and scenes from “The Greatest Showman” – songs from the soundtrack included. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Joshua Scott)
The psychedelic fashion that pervaded the ’60s is back with an exhibit at the @museumofcityny. “Mode New York: Fashion Takes a Trip” chronicles the changing styles from 1960 through 1973 and features designers such as @ysl, @oscardelarenta and more. The exhibition, which is on display through April 1, is organized into four periods: First Lady Fasion, Youthquake, New Bohemia and New Nonchalance. Pictured here is model Pat Bardonella during the Garvey Day Parade in 1968. (📷: @kwamebphoto) #wwdeye #wwdfashion
“People should be a lot more honest in expressing both the dark and light of themselves. We need to give each other the space to do that because it’s the only way we can grow and evolve,” says @noelwells of her new film “Mr. Roosevelt,” which is largely based on her own struggles. Unexpectedly leaving @nbcsnl in 2014 after just one season, Wells felt set back in her self-esteem and career trajectory. She quickly refocused her energy to more personal projects, which led to the completion of “Mr. Roosevelt.” Read the rest of WWD’s interview with the “Master of None” actress on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
@barbrastreisand is giving fans a chance to see her perform up close in a new concert series, which makes its debut on @Netflix today. From behind-the-scenes takes to her concert performance in Miami last December, the two-hour streaming special captures Streisand in her element. Pictured here is the singer/actress photographed for WWD in 1963. (📷: Palmieri Tony) #wwdeye #wwdarchive
@chanel and @pharrell dropped what’s being dubbed as the world’s most exclusive sneakers yesterday. The Adidas Originals NMD Hu, which Williams designed in collaboration with Chanel and @adidasoriginals, has a waiting list of over 120K people who pre-registered online at chanelatcolette.fr –– and only 500 pairs are on sale. The singer predicted the resale value of the shoes could reach $40K. Read the full interview on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdfashion (📷: Dominique Maître)
@imanshumpert is diving deeper into his creative endeavors and relaunching his clothing line, Post 90s, and is helping to raise money for the hurricane victims in St. Maarten with a jersey he’s designed with his brother. The Cleveland Cavaliers player talked to WWD about kneeling during the national anthem, working with fashion brands and how he wants to be more than an @nba player. Read the interview on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)