J.C. Penney Co. Inc. appears to have reported a surprise fiscal first-quarter profit, compared with Wall Street expectations of a loss, but the real surprise may be that adjusted earnings per share of 6 cents included a non-recurring gain from the sale of assets totaling $117 million. Based on the 309.6 million outstanding shares used in the calculation of earnings per share, that sale added about 38 cents to the adjusted bottom line. If that gain was excluded, the department store chain would have recorded a loss of 32 cents a share. The FactSet consensus was for a per-share loss of 21 cents a share. The stock was down 4.9% in premarket trade, as revenue missed and same-store sales declined more than expected. The stock has tumbled 36% year to date through Thursday, while the S&P 500 has gained 7%.
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