(Adds CEO comment, gross margin forecast)
Aug 14 Department store chain J.C. Penney
reported stronger- than-expected quarterly same-store
sales, bucking a trend of disappointing sales from peers such as
Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Macy's Inc.
J.C. Penney's shares were up 3.2 percent in extended trading
after the company also reported a much smaller second-quarter
loss that underscored a firm turnaround in its business.
Same-store sales rose 6 percent on strong demand for home
goods and jewelry, topping the 5.8 percent growth analysts had
This was Penney's third straight quarter of comparable sales
growth after nearly two years of declines when the struggling
retailer ditched popular merchandise and promotional offers in
an effort to move upmarket.
The botched move, led by former Chief Executive Ron Johnson,
resulted in steep declines in sales in 2012.
Penney fired Johnson in early 2013 and has since revamped
its household goods section and brought back many of its
in-house brands such as Cooks and St. John's Bay.
The company was also able to boost its gross margins to 36
percent from 29.6 percent at a time when heavy discounting
weighed on Wal-Mart and Macy's.
Wal-Mart, the world's biggest retailer, reported flat
same-store sales in the United States on Thursday, while
department store Macy's cut its full-year same-store sales
"In the second quarter, we gained additional market share
while significantly increasing gross margin in a highly
competitive promotional environment," Chief Executive Myron
Ullman said in a statement.
The company said Ullman, who underwent a surgery related to
a medical condition he had for more than 20 years, is recovering
and is expected to return to work soon.
Strong sales in the final weeks of the quarter - the
beginning of the back-to-school season - also helped increase
revenue, the company said in its post-earnings conference call.
Penney said it expects current quarter same-store sales to
increase in the mid-single digits percentage range.
Sales in the company's online business, which is also being
revamped, increased 16.7 percent in the quarter.
The company's loss narrowed to $172 million, or 56 cents per
share, in the second quarter ended August 2, from $586 million,
or $2.66 per share a year earlier.
Sales rose to $2.79 billion from $2.66 billion.
Excluding items, the company reported a loss of 75 cents per
Analysts on average had expected a loss of 93 cents per
share on revenue of $2.79 billion, according to Thomson Reuters
Shares of the company jumped as much as 13 percent in
after-market trading but lost some of those gains trade up 3.2
percent at $10.05.
(Reporting by Ramkumar Iyer in Bangalore; Editing by Saumyadeb