Department-store operator J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) revealed a stronger-than-expected 6.7% rise in first-quarter profits and upped its 2011 guidance on Monday.
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The upbeat results and bullish outlook sent shares of the Plano, Tex.-based retailer more than 4% higher to 52-week highs.
J.C. Penney said it earned $64 million, or 28 cents a share, last quarter, compared with a profit of $60 million, or 25 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts had called for EPS of 24 cents.
Sales inched up 0.4% to $3.94 billion, while same-store sales grew 3.8%.
“The steps we have taken to manage our expenses position us to increase the flow-through of sales to the bottom line,” CEO Myron Ullman III said in a statement. “We are accelerating this process through a series of initiatives across the company to maximize operational effectiveness. We expect these ongoing actions will result in substantial expense savings, beginning this year, and allow us to significantly accelerate profitability."
Looking ahead, J.C. Penney now sees full-year EPS of $2.15 to $2.25, compared with consensus calls on Wall Street for just $2.09.
For the current quarter, the company forecasted same-store sales rising 3% to 4%, translating to GAAP EPS of 20 cents to 24 cents.
Shares of J.C. Penny jumped 3.95% to $39.96 Monday morning, giving them a 2011 gain of nearly 19% and a 39.5% rally over the past year.