Shareholders rejoiced and pushed J.C. Penney Co. Inc.’s stock up 18.9 percent to $9.95 in afterhours trading today after the company’s losses widened, but not as much as feared, and the retailer reported a solid increase in comparable-store sales.

Nordstrom Inc., which is trying to sell its credit card business, as well as Dillard’s Inc. reported weaker bottom lines for what has been a tough quarter.

For the three months ended May 3, Penney’s losses widened slightly to $352 million, or $1.15 a share, from a loss of $348 million, or $1.58, last year. Analysts’ consensus estimate was a loss of $1.25 a share.

Net sales rose 6.3 percent to $2.8 billion from $2.64 billion. Analysts were expecting net sales of $2.71 billion. The company said same-store sales rose 6.2 percent.

Nordstrom said net earnings dipped 3.4 percent to $140 million, or 72 cents a share, from $145 million, or 73 cents, a year earlier. Profits per share topped the 68 cents analysts were looking for by 4 cents.

Revenues for the three months jumped 6.6 percent to $2.93 billion from $2.75 billion.

Nordstrom also said it hired Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Guggenheim Securities to help it sell its $2 billion credit card receivables business. Nordstrom is one of the last retailers to still own the back end of its credit card business. The company’s stock jumped 10.6 percent to $68.03 in afterhours trading.

At Dillard’s, net profits for the quarter slipped 4.7 percent to $111.7 million from $117.2 million. Earnings per share, however, rose to $2.56 a share from $2.50 as the company bought back stock. Revenues for the three months dipped 0.1 percent to $1.59 billion with a 2 percent rise in comparable-store sales.

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