By  on January 8, 2014

Shares of J.C. Penney Co. Inc. fell in pre-market trading Wednesday as the company reaffirmed fourth-quarter projections without providing specifics on holiday results.

The company said it was “pleased” with its performance for the holiday period, when it showed “continued progress in its turnaround efforts.

“Customers responded well to the company’s offerings this holiday season, both in store and online,” the embattled midtier department store chain said.

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In November, upon the release of its third-quarter results, the company said it expected improvement in same-store sales and gross margins during the current fourth quarter, both sequentially and year over year. It also forecast a reduction in selling, general and administrative expenses in comparison to the fourth quarter of 2012 and year-end inventories of about $2.85 billion.

In the third quarter, comparable-store sales declined 4.8 percent and gross margin, pressured by clearance activity, descended to 29.5 percent of sales from 32.5 percent in the prior-year quarter.

The fourth quarter of 2012 was an especially difficult and decisive one for the Plano, Tex.-based company as comps fell 31.7 percent, part of a 28.4 percent reduction in overall sales, and gross margin contracted to 23.8 percent of sales from 30.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Penney’s reported fourth-quarter results on Feb. 27. Ron Johnson was ousted as chief executive officer of the company in April and succeeded by Myron “Mike” Ullman 3rd, his predecessor as Penney’s chief.

Shares of Penney fell 8.4 percent, to $7.50, prior to the opening of the equity markets Wednesday.

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