A view outside the JC Penney store.

J.C. Penney Co., continuing to show progress in its turnaround, reduced its net loss to $138 million in the second quarter ended Aug. 1, from $172 million in the year-ago period.

Same-store sales rose 4.1 percent, with total sales reaching $2.88 billion compared to $2.8 billion in the year-ago period. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization rose to $115 million from $90 million. The company had an operating loss of $38 million, compared to a loss of $70 million a year ago.

“We are pleased to report another quarter of improved performance thanks to the commitment and diligence of the J.C. Penney team,” said Marvin Ellison, chief executive officer. “Although we have significant work to do as a company to regain our status as a world-class retailer, I am pleased with the resilience and the efforts of our associates. I am also confident in the long-term financial targets we have laid out.”

Men’s, home, Sephora and fine jewelry were the top-performing categories last quarter, the company said.

Gross margin improved 100 basis points to 37 percent of sales, driven by improvements in clearance and promotion selling margins.

For this year, Penney’s expects a 4 to 5 percent comparable-store sales gain, a gross margin gain of 100 to 150 basis points, and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of about $620 million.

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