JC Penney shrinks loss, shares spike

'Significant progress' in effort to return to profitability

J.C. Penney Co. lost less money in its third quarter than Wall Street feared, sending shares surging.

The embattled retailer's net loss of $93 million, or 29 cents a share, in the three months through Nov. 2, compared with a $151 million loss a year earlier. Its adjusted loss, which excludes restructuring costs and other one-time items, was 30 cents a share, better than the 56-cent loss that analysts surveyed by Refinitiv had projected.

"We made significant progress on our efforts to return J.C. Penney to sustainable, profitable growth,” CEO Jill Soltau said in a statement.

Net sales fell 10.1 percent year-over-year to $2.38 billion, less than the $2.51 billion that Wall Street was looking for. Adjusted sales at stores open at least a year, a retail industry benchmark, tumbled 6.6 percent from last year, the Plano, Texas-based company said in the statement.

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Inventory fell 9 percent from a year ago to $2.93 billion, as the retailer kept a tighter rein on turnaround time for merchandise waiting to be sold. J.C. Penney ended the third quarter with liquidity of $1.7 billion and expects to maintain at least $1.5 billion for the rest of the year.


Looking ahead, J.C. Penney sees adjusted Ebitda, a measure of earnings that approximates cash flow, of more than $475 million for fiscal 2019, up from its previous estimate of $440 million to $475 million. The company still sees same-store sales falling 7 percent to 8 percent.

Earlier this month, the retailer rolled out new concepts in an effort to return to profitability. J.C. Penney remodeled its store in Hurst, Texas, with a fitness studio, videogame lounge and cafe, The Wall Street Journal reported. The location is also offering style classes, hair and makeup workshops and cooking-gadget demonstrations, the report said.

J.C. Penney shares have tumbled 90 percent since March 2016 amid changing consumer preferences and a shift from brick-and-mortar shopping to e-commerce.


The company’s market capitalization topped out at $19.5 billion on June 19, 1998. It was below $350 million at the end of the day on Thursday.