Financial Performance

Q2 Earnings Send JC Penney Stock to New Low

The retailer's loss widens to $62 million but CEO Marvin Ellison sees the 1.5% increase in sales and the improved performance of apparel as positiv...
Matthew HellerAugust 11, 2017

J.C. Penney shares hit an all-time low on Friday as worse-than-expected quarterly earnings and same-store sales fueled investor concern over its turnaround program.

In the second quarter, the retailer saw its net loss widen to $62 million, or 20 cents per share, from $56 million, or 18 cents per share, a year earlier. So far this year, it has lost $242 million, almost twice the loss in the comparable period of 2016.

The adjusted earnings loss of 9 cents a share was larger than analysts’ estimates of a loss of 5 cents.

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As far as the top line, Penney reported revenue of $2.96 billion, beating estimates of $2.84 billion, but same-store sales fell 1.3%, compared with an expected decline of 1.2%.

CEO Marvin Ellison was encouraged by the 1.5% increase in top-line sales and “the improved performance in our total apparel business, including a significant acceleration in kids’ apparel.”

“Nearly all categories delivered improved sales results during the quarter, with our growth initiatives in beauty, home refresh and omnichannel continuing to deliver positive sales growth,” he said in a news release.

But investors apparently focused on the bottom line, which has been hit by Penney’s shuttering of 138 stores and liquidation of inventory. In trading Friday, its shares tumbled 16.5% to $3.93, leaving the stock down more than 62% over the past year.

Department stores in general have been hit by declining mall traffic and online competition. “But given Penney’s high level of indebtedness — long term debt is $3.8 billion, enormous for an unprofitable company generating less than $12 billion in annual sales — [the second-quarter] results are particular worrisome to investors concerned Penney is unable to fix its business,” Fortune said.

Penney’s fix includes the store liquidation program, which, according to the company, has helped trim excess inventory and better position its business for the remainder of the year.

“The pain of today … will turn into tomorrow’s gain when the cost savings from the shuttered stores start to filter through,” GlobalData Retail Managing Director Neil Saunders wrote in a note to clients.