Shares of J.C. Penney Co. Inc. shot up 21.1 percent to $7.22 in the first hour of trading on Wall Street today, a sign that investors were relieved to see both better fourth-quarter results and that the shadow of a Securities and Exchange Commission inquiry had been lifted.

The retailer reported a net profit of $35 million for the fourth quarter on a 2 percent gain in comparable-store sales. “We’ve restored calm and clarity of purpose with suppliers, shored up our financial position and have rebuilt Penney’s from the inside out,” said chief executive officer Myron “Mike” Ullman 3rd on Wednesday.

The firm also said it received notice from the SEC’s Fort Worth office that its investigation into the company had been closed and that no action was recommended. Last fall, the securities watchdog had requested information about the retailer’s controversial stock offering in September as well as its liquidity, cash position and financing.

Penney’s is just entering what it sees as the third leg of its turnaround, following former chief executive officer’s Ron Johnson’s failed efforts to transform the company. Over the past year, the stock has traded as low as $4.90 and as high as $19.63.

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