J.C. Penney plunges amid weak results, loss forecast

J.C. Penney shares shed more than one-quarter of their value after the retailer posted a wider-than-expected loss and forecast an unexpectedly large loss for the year. 

The retailer on Thursday reported a loss of $101 million in its fiscal second quarter. The Plano, Texas-based company said it had a loss of 32 cents per share, or well short of Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of nine analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for a loss of 8 cents per share.

Shares of J.C. Penney plunged in early trading. The stock dropped 63 cents, or 26 percent, to $1.78. The share decline represents the retailer's lowest since listing on the New York Stock Exchange in 1929, according to Reuters.

The results were disappointing on a number of levels, not in the least because retail sales are growing as consumers open their wallets, noted Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, in a research note. That suggests that Penney is "soundly asleep" while "there is something of a party going on in retail," he wrote.

"The most worrying thing about the results is that if J.C. Penney can't perk itself up at a time when the retail mood is elevated, it suggests that there are fundamental weaknesses in the company's position," Saunders added. "The company just feels increasingly tired and lacking in spirit."

The department store operator posted revenue of $2.83 billion in the period, which also did not meet Street forecasts. Six analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $2.89 billion.

Penney expects full-year results to range from a loss of $1 per share to a loss of 80 cents per share.

The company's shares closed at $2.41. A year ago, they were trading at $3.68.