J.C. Penney spirals down as retail's dismal week continues

Last Updated May 12, 2017 10:24 AM EDT

PLANO, Texas - J.C Penney's (JCP) financial losses doubled in the first quarter, highlighting the downward spiral for many brick-and-mortar retailers. 

Though the loss wasn't as bad as many industry analysts had expected, sliding sales at stores open at least a year, a key industry metric, fell for the third consecutive quarter.

J.C. Penney shares fell more than 8 percent, to $4.85, in early trading. The stock has plunged nearly 42 percent in 2017.

Shares of other retailers, which took a huge hit Thursday after dismal reports from Macy's and Nordstrom, began to decline again after stabilizing overnight.

For the three months ended April 29, Penney lost $180 million, or 58 cents per share. A year ago the Plano, Texas, company lost $68 million, or 22 cents per share.

Stripping out certain items, earnings were 6 cents per share. Analysts polled by Zacks Investment Research were calling for a loss of 22 cents per share.

Penney's revenue declined from $2.81 billion, to $2.71 billion, which was worse than Wall Street had expected.

Sales at stores open at least a year dropped 3.5 percent. Analysts watch that figure closely as a signal of a retailer's health because it excludes the volatility of stores that were recently opened or closed.

This week, Macy's, Nordstrom and Kohl's posted fading same-store sales numbers as well.

There is good news and bad news for retailers like J.C. Penney, Macy's, Nordstrom and others. Americans are spending money. They're just not spending it at department stores.

Data released Friday by the U.S. Commerce Department shows that Americans stepped up spending in April, but that money went largely to auto dealers, online stores or places like hardware stores.

In the same period, sales at department stores fell 0.2 percent. In a category that includes online retailers, sales grew of 1.4 percent, the strongest of any group.

"Consumer spending isn't bouncing back quite as fast as expected in the second quarter, and the inflation dial remains stuck on slow simmer amid aggressive online competition," said Sal Guatieri, senior economist with BMO Capital Markets, in a note. 

The path through the new retail landscape was been made even more difficult for J.C. Penney after its catastrophic transformation several years ago under a one-time Apple executive.

Marvin Ellison took over as CEO in 2015. He has brought major appliances like washing machines back to the stores and is quickly expanding the number of Sephora beauty shops in its stores.

J.C. Penney is also trying to modernize, equipping its workers with mobile devices to help online shoppers pick up orders in the store.

J.C. Penney's decision to postpone liquidation sales at 138 stores targeted to close may suggest that the company is trying eke out something from the stores after a weak spring, said Kimberly Greenberger, an equity analyst at Morgan Stanley (see bottom for a full list of the J.C. Penney stores slated to close).

Ellison said that trends over the past two months are positive.

"While February was a very challenging month for J.C. Penney and broader retail, we are pleased with our comp store sales for the combined March and April period, which improved significantly versus February," he said.

Executives said Friday that they still expect full-year adjusted earnings between 40 cents and 65 cents per share. Analysts polled by FactSet predict earnings of 48 cents per share.

Following is a full list of the stores J.C. Penney plans to close in 2017. 

  • Auburn Mall, Auburn, AL
  • Tannehill Promenade, Bessemer, AL
  • Gadsden Mall, Gadsden, AL
  • Jasper Mall, Jasper, AL
  • Military Plaza, Benton, AR
  • Chickasaw Plaza, Blytheville, AR
  • Riverview Mall, Bullhead City, AZ
  • Downtown Bishop, Bishop, CA
  • Sunwest Plaza, Lodi, CA
  • The Village at Orange, Orange, CA
  • Hilltop Mall, Richmond, CA
  • Fort Morgan Main St., Fort Morgan, CO
  • Glenwood Springs Mall, Glenwood Springs, CO
  • St. Vrain Centre, Longmont, CO
  • Broadway Plaza, Sterling, CO
  • Connecticut Post Mall, Milford, CT
  • Jacksonville Regional Shopping Center, Jacksonville, FL
  • Palatka Mall, Palatka, FL
  • Dublin Mall, Dublin, GA
  • Macon Mall, Macon, GA
  • Milledgeville Mall, Milledgeville, GA
  • Gateway Plaza, Thomasville, GA
  • Tifton Mall, Tifton, GA
  • Downtown Decorah, Decorah, IA
  • Crossroads Mall, Fort Dodge, IA
  • Penn Central Mall, Oskaloosa, IA
  • Quincy Place, Ottumwa, IA
  • Snake River Plaza, Burley, ID
  • Eastland Mall, Bloomington, IL
  • Fulton Square, Canton, IL
  • Village Square Mall, Effingham, IL
  • Freestanding, Macomb, IL
  • Peru Mall, Peru, IL
  • Northland Mall, Sterling, IL
  • Centerpointe of Woodridge, Woodridge, IL
  • FairOaks Mall, Columbus, IN
  • Connersville Plaza, Connersville, IN
  • Huntington Plaza, Huntington, IN
  • Jasper Manor Center, Jasper, IN
  • Logansport Mall, Logansport, IN
  • Chanute Square, Chanute, KS
  • Downtown Great Bend, Great Bend, KS
  • Hutchinson Mall, Hutchinson, KS
  • Freestanding, Lawrence, KS
  • Winfield Plaza, Winfield, KS
  • Cortana Mall, Baton Rouge, LA
  • Park Terrace, DeRidder, LA
  • North Shore Square, Slidell, LA
  • Berkshire Mall, Lanesborough, MA
  • Easton Marketplace, Easton, MD
  • Rockland Plaza, Rockland, ME
  • Lakeview Square Mall, Battle Creek, MI
  • Delta Plaza, Escanaba, MI
  • Westshore Mall, Holland, MI
  • Copper Country Mall, Houghton, MI
  • Birchwood Mall, Kingsford, MI
  • Midland Mall, Midland, MI
  • Cascade Crossings, Sault Ste. Marie, MI
  • Central Lakes Crossing, Baxter, MN
  • Five Lakes Centre, Fairmont, MN
  • Faribo West Mall, Faribault, MN
  • Irongate Plaza, Hibbing, MN
  • Hutchinson Mall, Hutchinson, MN
  • Red Wing Mall, Red Wing, MN
  • Downtown Thief River Falls, Thief River Falls, MN
  • Freestanding, Winona, MN
  • Maryville Center, Maryville, MO
  • Leigh Mall, Columbus, MS
  • Southgate Plaza, Corinth, MS
  • Greenville Mall, Greenville, MS
  • Bonita Lakes Mall, Meridian, MS
  • Oxford Mall, Oxford, MS
  • Capital Hill Mall, Helena, MT
  • Sidney Main Street, Sidney, MT
  • Albemarle Crossing, Albemarle, NC
  • Boone Mall, Boone, NC
  • Eastridge Mall, Gastonia, NC
  • Blue Ridge Mall, Hendersonville, NC
  • Monroe Crossing, Monroe, NC
  • Becker Village Mall, Roanoke Rapids, NC
  • Prairie Hills Mall, Dickinson, ND
  • Buffalo Mall, Jamestown, ND
  • Downtown Wahpeton, Wahpeton, ND
  • Fremont Mall, Fremont, NE
  • Downtown McCook, McCook, NE
  • Platte River Mall, North Platte, NE
  • Rio Grande Plaza, Rio Grande, NJ
  • The Boulevard, Las Vegas, NV
  • Dunkirk-Fredonia Plaza, Dunkirk, NY
  • Westfield Sunrise, Massapequa, NY
  • Palisades Center, West Nyack, NY
  • Findlay Village Mall, Findlay, OH
  • New Towne Mall, New Philadelphia, OH
  • Richmond Town Square, Richmond Heights, OH
  • St. Mary's Square, St. Marys, OH
  • Altus Plaza, Altus, OK
  • Ne-Mar Shopping Center, Claremore, OK
  • Ponca Plaza, Ponca City, OK
  • Pioneer Square Shopping Center, Stillwater, OK
  • Astoria Downtown, Astoria, OR
  • Grants Pass Shopping Center, Grants Pass, OR
  • La Grande Downtown, La Grande, OR
  • Downtown Pendleton, Pendleton, OR
  • The Dalles Main Street, The Dalles, OR
  • Columbia Mall, Bloomsburg, PA
  • Clearfield Mall, Clearfield, PA
  • King of Prussia Mall, King of Prussia, PA
  • Philadelphia Mills, Philadelphia, PA
  • Bradford Towne Centre, Towanda, PA
  • Lycoming Mall, Pennsdale, PA
  • Willow Grove Park, Willow Grove, PA
  • Citadel Mall, Charleston, SC
  • Town 'N Country, Easley, SC
  • Palace Mall, Mitchell, SD
  • Northridge Plaza, Pierre, SD
  • Watertown Mall, Watertown, SD
  • Yankton Mall, Yankton, SD
  • Greeneville Commons, Greeneville, TN
  • Knoxville Center, Knoxville, TN
  • County Market Place, Union City, TN
  • Athens Village Shopping Center, Athens, TX
  • Borger Shopping Plaza, Borger, TX
  • Heartland Mall, Early, TX
  • El Paso Downtown, El Paso, TX
  • Marshall Mall, Marshall, TX
  • McAllen Downtown, McAllen, TX
  • University Mall, Nacogdoches, TX
  • King Plaza Shopping Center, Seguin, TX
  • Bosque River Center, Stephenville, TX
  • New River Valley Mall, Christiansburg, VA
  • Tanglewood Mall, Roanoke, VA
  • Pilchuck Landing, Snohomish, WA
  • Pine Tree Mall, Marinette, WI
  • Marshfield Mall, Marshfield, WI
  • Richland Square Shopping Center, Richland Center, WI
  • Rapids Mall, Wisconsin Rapids, WI
  • Foxcroft Towne Center, Martinsburg, WV
  • Downtown Sheridan, Sheridan, WY