J.C. Penney surges on hopes of better sales

Posted at 11:19 AM, Nov 20, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-20 11:19:43-05

By Ben Rooney

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — J.C. Penney reported a larger-than-expected quarterly loss Wednesday, but the ailing retailer said there will be continued improvement in sales during the current quarter.

Shares of J.C. Penney jumped more than 7% ahead of the opening bell in the news.

J.C. Penney said it lost $489 million, or $1.94 per share, in the third quarter. Excluding restructuring charges and other one-time items, the retailer lost $1.81 a share. Analysts had expected a loss of $1.71 per share, according to Thomson Reuters.

Revenue was $2.78 billion in the quarter. That’s down from last year, but roughly in-line with expectations.

J.C. Penney said earlier this month that same-store sales, a key metric in the retail industry, rose 0.9% in October. It was the first time same-store sales grew since December 2011. For the full third quarter, however, same-store sales fell 4.8%.

CEO Mike Ullman said in a statement he is “encouraged” by sales trends in the early weeks of November, adding that “we are making strides toward a path to long-term profitable growth.”

The company expects same store sales to improve in the fourth quarter.

But it’s been a difficult year for more than 100-year old company.

Ullman has been rebuilding store inventory and bringing back discount brands in an attempt to lure back customers that were turned off by changes made by Ron Johnson, who stepped down as CEO in April.

J.C. Penney’s stock is down more than 50% so far this year, making it the worst performing stock in the S&P 500. But a number of top hedge funds have recently disclosed stakes in the company, suggesting that some investors may be willing to bet on a J.C. Penney turnaround.

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