Reports of JCPenney's demise were premature

Shares of J.C. Penney (JCP) jumped more than 3 percent in after-hours trading on Thursday after the long-struggling retailer reported quarterly results that were much better than Wall Street had expected. Granted, not much was expected.

The Plano, Texas-based company lost $172 million, or 56 cents per share, in the latest quarter, narrower than the year-ago period's loss of $586 million, or $2.66 per share, as CEO (for a second time) Myron "Mike" Ullman's aggressive promotion strategy brought shoppers back. Revenue rose 5.1 percent to $2.80 billion. Analysts had expected a loss of 79 cents per share on sales of $2.79 billion.

Same-store sales, a key retail metric of locations opened at least a year, rose 6 percent, surpassing the performance of some other retailers. Walmart (WMT) has posted six straight quarters of comparable sales declines. Macy's (M), the second-largest department store chain, reported a disappointing same-store sales gain of 3.4 percent yesterday.

Ullman, who was hired last year to undo the damage left by his predecessor Ron Johnson, also offered an upbeat view on the company's future.

"Our customers know they can count on JCPenney to deliver relevant stylish merchandise at a price that fits their budget," said Ullman, who himself was replaced by Johnson. Ullman added: "We expect to continue driving profitable sales this back-to-school season."

JCPenney last traded after-hours at $10.07, a gain of 3.2 percent. The shares closed in regular trading at $9.74, up 4 percent.

  • Jonathan Berr

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