J.C. Penney's Co.'s stock shot up 5.2% in afternoon trade Friday, after Credit Suisse said it was no longer bearish on the department store chain, given its new priority to pay down debt. Analyst Michael Exstein raised his rating to neutral, after being at underperform since at least February 2013. Exstein said the upgrade is not based on any significant change in business expectations, but on the company's shift in focus to what it can control--reducing debt. "This focus on debt reduction could allow [J.C. Penney] to maintain its current share price despite multiple decay by shifting its enterprise value from debt to equity," Exstein wrote in a note to clients. The stock has now run up 14% since it closed last Wednesday at the lowest level ($6.31) since Jan. 2, 2015. Still, it has tumbled 21% over the past three months, while the SPDR S&P Retail ETF has lost 11% and the S&P 500 has shed 7.8%.
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